Head Over Skates Bonus Scene


Twenty Years Later

“Uncle Cyrus!” Lily shouts, her little legs pumping as she runs towards my brother. He scoops her up and swings her around, both of them giggling like a couple of hyenas.

I can’t help but grin as Emily and I catch up to them. The Blizzard Dome has changed a lot in the last twenty years, but it still feels like home.

Cyrus works at the Blizzard Dome as an NHL data scientist and is well-respected in his field, recognized for his innovative approach to athlete statistics and game analytics. To me, he’s still that sticky little boy with unruly hair, even though he tries to tame it with a short haircut. It still pokes up in the back, though.

“Alright munchkin, ready for the grand tour?” Cyrus asks, setting Lily back on her feet. She nods eagerly, practically bouncing with excitement.

As we walk through the high-tech facility, Cyrus explains all the fancy schmancy data science stuff he does to help the players up their game using remote sensors and smart technology.

He also designed a VR simulator for fans to test their ability when they visit the stadium, using the tools of data science to derive insights from hockey datasets.

I’ll be honest, most of it goes over my head. But Lily is enthralled, peppering him with questions about algorithms and analytics, even though she’s only five. She definitely takes after Cyrus in that sense, somehow. Her siblings are all older and completely dote on her. She’s our whoops baby, and pretty much runs us ragged. I don’t mind spoiling her, though. She has the feisty spirit of Emily.

We finally reach the fan simulation area and Lily’s eyes go wide as saucers. “I get to play hockey? Like a real Titan?”

“You bet, kiddo. And we’ll track all your stats so you can see how you stack up,” Cyrus explains as he helps her gear up. Lily roars with excitement, and shouts, “Go Titans!”

Emily leans into me, a wistful smile on her face. “Reminds me of a certain someone…”

I chuckle and squeeze her hand. “What can I say? I make great babies.”

Emily elbows me in the ribs.

But as we watch Lily take her first wobbly strides on the virtual ice, stick in hand and a determined gleam in her eye, I have a feeling we might be raising the next Jablonski hockey legend. And I couldn’t be more damn proud.

Alright, I’ll admit it. Seeing my daughter all geared up with a fierce determination in her stance reminds me so much of myself at that age… it’s enough to make even a tough guy like me a little misty-eyed. But don’t tell anyone, okay? I’ve got a reputation to maintain.

“She’s a natural,” I say.

Emily laughs softly, her hand finding mine and giving it a squeeze. “I don’t know. I still hold out hope that she might trade in that stick for a pair of figure skates one day.”

I raise an eyebrow at her, my tone teasing. “Oh, is that so? Planning on luring her over to the dark side, are we?”

She swats at my arm playfully, her eyes sparkling with mirth. “Hey, I seem to remember you being quite appreciative of my figure skating skills back in the day.”

I chuckle, pulling her closer and pressing a kiss to her temple. “Mmm, you’ve got a point there. But I think we both know that hockey is in her blood. Just look at that form!”

We watch in amazement as Lily manages a wobbly but respectable attempt at a slap shot, the virtual puck sailing towards the goal. Cyrus whoops from the sidelines, his face split in a wide grin.

“Did you see that, Daddy?” Lily calls out, her cheeks flushed with exertion and excitement.

“Heck yeah, I did! Way to go, Lily Pad!” I holler back, feeling my chest swell with a fierce sort of pride.

Emily leans into me, her voice soft but filled with warmth. “She’s going to be tenacious on the ice, isn’t she?”

I nod, my eyes never leaving Lily as she lines up for another shot. “Just like her mom,” I murmur, leaning down to kiss Emily. “Just like her mom.”