James Neal laughed as Acelin Crosby peeked out from underneath his helmet. "Looks a little big for you there buddy." Jordan said, smiling at 14 month old Acelin.
Acelin giggled and tried to tilt his head up to look at Jordan. The helmet slid backward of his head and onto the floor. "UH OH!" Acelin cried, bending over to pick up the helmet. "Sowwie, Unle Nealer!"
The room erupted with laughter as James scooped him up and hugged him. "It's okay little buddy. No harm done." Acelin was in the Penguins locker room at the Consol visiting his dad. He spent a lot of time there, always interested in what the team was doing and wanting to try on everything.
Sidney walked up and took his son from his team mate. Kissing him on the forehead, Sid sat down on the bench and pulled a penguins hat from behind him. "I got you something little man." He said putting the hat on Acelin's head. Acelin smiled and took the hat off to look at it. It had all the player's signatures on it. Acelin's smile spread into a huge grin.
"Awww Daddy!!!!" He squealed throwing his arms around his dad's neck. Sid grinned as he hugged him back. It was these special moments that Sidney cherished. Time with his son, where he could be with him and share his love for hockey with him. Acelin already had a hunger for hockey that impressed Sid. Even at the tender age of 14 months, Acelin had developed a taste for the game and everything to do with it.
Just then Mario walked into the locker room and came up to the two of them. "Well Ace, I have to bring you back to your mama and let your daddy get ready for the game okay bud?" He said, using the nickname everyone gave the young Crosby.
"Okay, Unle Maio!" Acelin replied reaching his arms up for Mario to take him. "WAIT! Me kiss daddy!" He screeched, leaning over to give Sid a kiss.
Sidney smiled and waved at his boy as he left. "I'll see you later little man!"
After his son had left, Sid went about getting suited up for the game. Smiling he thought of his wife, Diana who was probably sitting up in the owners box with Natalie and Mario. She wasn't showing yet, but just the thought that she was carrying his second child made Sid smile. Diana was due in May and they were both excited about having another baby. Sidney had been so thrilled to announce her pregnancy to everyone, he'd wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
As he stepped onto the ice, Sidney tried to drowned out the loud cheers of the crowd. His thoughts focused on the game, he ran the last practice over in his mind. As always Sid wanted to win. He hungered for victory. He could hear a faint, familiar voice shouting above the crowd, "LET'S GO PENS!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!! GO SID BABY!!!" Smiling Sidney looked up toward the owner's box. Sure enough, Diana was there waving to him with Natalie Lemieux standing beside her.
He quickly waved back, then went back to warming up. Diana was in his mind, his number one fan. She rarely missed a home game if she could help it, and cheered louder then all the rest of the fans in the building. Diana was always supportive, and never failed to encourage Sid in everything he did. Sid loved that about her. He loved her never ending faith in him, as well as her unwaivering support.
Sid stopped next to his team mates and took of his helmet. Resting his helmet on the end of his stick then, laying his forehead against it, he stood silently as the Anthem was sung. Once it ended, he replaced his helmet and snapped the strap in place. Another day, another game and he was loving every second. Winning the faceoff, Sid dropped the puck back to the rookie Beau Bennett. Away they went charging into the opponents zone. Putting the pressure on early, Sid let of two shots on net getting his own second rebound and passing it to Beau. With one swift shot, the rookie put it up over the goalie's shoulder and into the back of the net.
They screamed and celebrated, Sid shouting "great job!" to his winger. Less then 1 1/2 minutes into the first period, and the Penguins were leading the Rangers 1-0. 'This is going to be a great night!' Sid thought to himself as he jumped off the ice and sat on the bench after his shift.
The first period seemed to fly by. With few whistles and no penalties, the Penguins ended the first period leading 3-1. In the locker room, the boys were bustling with excitement. They could feel the energy radiating from the fans and felt confident that they could go out in the second and build off the momentum from the first. Sidney wiped his forehead with a towel and took a long drink of water.
Sid, himself had finished that period with one assist and a goal. The team was strong, and it was still fairly early in the season. If they could keep this power and momentum, the rest of the season looked promising. Sid was confident in his team mates and in himself. They had a great team, with a healthy mix of vets like himself, Evgeni Malkin and Marc Andre Fleury and rookies such as Beau Bennett, Conner Stark and Roman Shanahan. Sidney was happy with the group of players on the team.
They had lost a couple vets, like Zybnek Michalek and Jordan Staal in the last trades but with the new guys they'd picked up, Sid felt confident in their abilities as a team. The system hadn't changed and with Dan still head coach, they adjusted well. Of course they missed their boys. Sid missed Staalsy the most. Those two had been close to them, like family. It was tough when players got traded, especially when they'd been on the team for as long as Jordan had been. They'd won two cups with the Pens and it was sad to see them go. But life goes on, and they team had to focus on the present.
As the second period began, Sid was feeling pumped. His adrenaline was rushing through his body and he felt strong. Two minutes into the second, Jordan ended up in the box for two minutes on a hooking penalty. The rookie Conner Stark was on the ice for the penalty kill. He had been number one in the juniors for pk and had an uncanny ability to get in the way of the puck and block shots. Conner also had unbelievable speed and agility. Sid had liked him instantly, and kind of taken the young center under his wing. Conner admired and respected Sidney. It was an honor to play with the greatest player in the world.
Sidney could feel his heart begin to race as Kris passed the puck up to Conner after blocking a shot. Conner shot up the ice, Chris Kunitz right behind him. The two of them broke into the Ranger's zone, Chris feeding the puck across to Conner, winding up Conner shot the puck quickly a loud roar rising from the crowd as it blew past the goalie and into the back of the net. Sid jumped up screaming as his teammates hugged on the ice. Conner's smile spreading across his face. It was his second goal of his NHL career; 4-1 Penguins.
By the third period the Penguins were leading 5-1 after a sweet power play goal by Sidney. With under two minutes left in the third, the Rangers had become really frustrated, making rookie mistakes and taking another penalty. Sid jumped out on the ice for the power play.
"Hey Captain, get the hat trick!" Beau said, tapping his Captain on the shoulder. Sidney smiled and nodded. He'd love that, if he could get one, it'd be the 12th of his career. Winning the face off, Sidney passed the puck back to his winger Chris. Racing down the ice, Sid and his wingers, Chris and Beau flew into the Rangers zone passing the puck between them as they went. Sid danced around behind the Rangers' net feeding the puck up to Beau at the point. Spinning off a check, Beau fed the puck back to his Captain who had settled himself in front of the net. The puck bounced from Sid's skate to his stick, and with a quick flick of his wrist he sent it sailing between the goalies legs and into the net.
The crowd roared and rose to their feet, as hats came flying onto the ice. He'd done it, Sidney had achieved his 12th career hat trick. The crowd went crazy as his teammates congratulated him. Sid looked up to see Diana grinning from ear to ear, their son in her arms clapping and cheering for his daddy. Sidney grinned up at his family, beaming from pride. But no matter how many goals or hat tricks he had, his greatest pride came from the beautiful wife and son he had been so blessed to have. When the final buzzer sounded at the end of the game, the Penguins had won the game 6-1. A great end to a very hard played game. Victory was certainly sweet.