Answer: A Detroit Red Wings Jimmy Howard practice jersey.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what that could possibly have to with local girls hockey. That’s mostly because we haven’t yet arrived at the question: What is your all-time favorite or most memorable hockey related holiday gift?
For me, it was that No. 35 sweater. This was four years ago, before Howard was a household name among fantasy hockey and goaltending gurus and it came from my college roommate. We attended the University of Maine together, at the same time Howard was the goaltender for the Black Bears.
While setting a few NCAA records and playing the position as well as anyone I’ve ever seen up close, Howard became my favorite player and my roommate and I tracked his progress through the minors and up to Detroit, where he plays today.
Thinking about that awesome gift made me wonder what other hockey related Christmas gifts were out there. So, I posed that question to a number of local girls hockey folks and got some outstanding responses.
Let’s begin with Marblehead coach Emily Hudak, who had an excellent playing career at Cushing Academy and Ohio State University. She graduated from Cushing in 1999, when girls hockey wasn’t a big sport for public schools, and her favorite gift was her first hockey stick.
“I always wanted to play hockey like my older brother Erik (an MHS assistant coach). My mom told me girls don’t play hockey but after years of begging my dad finally gave the OK for me to play,” she recalled. “When I was 10 I got my first fluorescent green Sherwood hockey stick. I loved it.”
The only trouble for Hudak was that though she was a righty in every other sport, she had a left-hand shot in hockey.