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  • Colin Fitzpatrick

A Love Affair

As Mike laces up his skates, he strikes up a conversation with one of the guys in the dressing room. He cracks one of his funny, yet super corny hockey jokes, “Je suis allé voir le barbier. Je voulais la coupe….Stanley!” Mike’s endearing and easy going attitude make him a lot of fun to play with, despite only having discovered the great world of hockey two seasons ago.

“Je suis allé voir le barbier. Je voulais la coupe….Stanley!”

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York and Greenwich, Connecticut, a young Micheal Gamanos found himself immersed in America’s greatest past-time – baseball. He, like most of his friends, got engrossed in the game; playing not only in organized leagues but also after school just for fun. In little league, Mike excelled as a pitcher. He recalls that, as a kid, he was never exceptionally talented at sports, but one of his greatest talents was that he always practiced harder than most. This, in turn, was one of Mikes greatest talents.

“I was never really talented at sports, I just really worked hard at it.”

In high school, Mike joined his school’s cross country running and track teams. He was very good at long distance and crosscountry running, and became his team’s captain. Even into University, Mike found sports to be a big part of his life. He joined a couple intramural teams and played pickup basketball and football – between parties.

As Mike travelled the world after graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder, he found that he was not only a social chameleon, but also a man of many sports. In Nigeria, for example, everyone played soccer. Mike, who had little experience with this game, immediately adopted it and played almost every day. When he came to Canada, Mike experienced something similar with skating, and later, hockey.

“The first time I went skating was with my Dad in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. We rented skates and just went skating.”

Travelling to Montreal, Canada, Mike decided that he would again adapt to the culture surrounding him. Although he was only here for a short week, he decided that he would go skating at a different rink around the city every day. Mike’s first time skating was at the age of 7 with his Dad in Brooklyn. Since then he had gone a few times with his Mom at indoor rinks in Connecticut, but nothing was like skating outdoors in Montreal’s cold winter. The first place Mike went skating in Montreal was the Old Port of Montreal. He recalls that this was the largest surface he’d ever skated on; extending beyond the small center pond and onto the river itself. It was a magical experience, and the beginning of a love affair.

Years later, Mike moved to Montreal, married and has a kid. He met his wife, ironically, at the Old Port rink. The first time Mike played hockey was in the winter of 2014. His brother-in-law gave him a stick and took him down to the local rink. Despite being one of the weakest players on the ice, Mike rekindled his love affair. He took it upon himself to develop his skills and become the best he could. Since then, Mike has improved his game and started to play at higher levels. He’s even joined some semi-organized adult leagues!

“I get nervous when I go to play hockey. But when I finally do it, all those emotions turn into pure bliss.”

Mike has not only found a deep and profound connection with hockey on the ice, but off the ice too. He loves watching the Montreal Canadiens, and doesn’t miss a game! Hockey has become his favorite sport to watch; he admires the respect that players have for each other, and finds the paucity of goals makes the game that much more exciting.

Although he sometimes wishes that he’d started to play hockey earlier in his life, Mike is continually excited about improving his play so that maybe one day he can share his love for the game with his son, Jake. He’s hopeful that Jake will like the sport and that he can coach him throughout house-league and create ever lasting memories with Jake on the ice. He plans to get his little man on cheese cutters come next year. Mike is currently playing at indoor leagues around his house, and is forever looking forward to next winter when he can play outside again!

“I’m so glad I was able to pickup this sport latter in my life.”

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