MOLINE, IL – With Thanksgiving here, our minds often turn to what we’re grateful for. A popular song at my house, especially this time of year, is “Count your blessings“. To save you time, I’ll just tell you what it’s about; basically, counting all the good things in your life is better than counting sheep when you can’t sleep. And while I know I’ll have no trouble sleeping after eating so much food, especially turkey this weekend, I think I’ll count my hockey blessings here.

One, I’m thankful for the sense of community hockey has given me. Before I got into hockey, my group of friends was not large. But now, I’ve met so many people and call so many of them friends. I’m thankful for each and every one of the friends I’ve made because of hockey. They say that you become like the people you spend time with, and I hope that’s true, because there’s some pretty cool people at the Mallards games.

I’m also thankful for the opportunities hockey has given me. Before I got into hockey at 16, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to write, but beyond that I was undecided. My second semester of college I decided to take a newspaper class and on a whim said I wanted to cover sports since I had gotten more into hockey, and the rest is history. I’m thankful to the Sin Bin for taking a chance on a barely experienced writer with a blog. Without Matt Harding and crew, I’d still be doubting myself and wouldn’t be gaining valuable experience.

I’m thankful for the players I’ve met too through my years of being a hockey fan and a reporter. Mallards past and present, players from rival teams, and even players from different leagues. I’ve met and talked with gold-medal winning Shannon Szabados, and Terry Ruskowski, the only man in professional history to captain four different hockey teams. Following some of the players on twitter was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I don’t know how, but Dan Milan always seems to have a hilarious tweet when work isn’t going the greatest. And getting to say hi to him after a game, whether the Mallards win or lose, is always a great end to a night.

On that note, I’m also thankful for the role models hockey has given me. Scott Darling, Rich Clune, and Szabados are all people I look up to. Clune has been outspoken about his battles against addiction, and Darling has spoken on occasion on his own past.

And last of all, I’m thankful for hockey itself. Without hockey, life would be far too boring.

I have a lot to be thankful for, far more than what I listed here. And for that, I’m grateful.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. See you Friday!