Friday, December 30, 2005

Chamoru Hockey in Canada

For those of you who know me, you know that I can't say enough about my hockey-playing nephew Nikko. He's a great kid and a phenomenal hockey player who has a genuine love for the sport. His play record speaks for itself (and if you're still not convinced, just spend 15 minutes with me and I can spout off all his major accomplishments). Speaking of which, if you check out this website, you'll see a quote from Nikko (his real name is Theo Tydingco). If you click on the "video of the skate weight in action -- 4mb .wmv" which is right next to "What the players are saying," the skater in the video is Nikko!

As you can see, I'm a VERY PROUD auntie. There's just something cool about a Chamoru-Filipino hockey player that I think is fascinating. It's also amazing for me to watch Nikko grow up and develop into a great player. Granted, I do worry that he'll have hockey burnout and eventually hate the sport, but right now, I just don't see it. He has a lot of fun, takes everything in stride, and is simply not a spoiled child (because if he were I'd slap him in the head!). The family loves him, is extremely supportive and of course, is proud if him. In fact, I'm always in awe of my niece Sonia Ann and nephew Brendan because they love their brother so much that I can't recall any bouts of jealousy towards Nikko. That's true family love for you.

I always tell Nikko that if he were ever to play for team USA, that I would make t-shirts for the family that read, "THEO'S FAMILY." Additionally, I would be in the stands madly waving a Guam and Philippine flag in each hand.

This picture was taken about three years ago as well. It was during a tournament that my nephew and his team competed in. Nikko is the one in the middle with the "C" on his jersey. Yes folks, was and still is the team captain.

Just so you all know, we're not pushing Nikko to play pro hockey (he's only turning 13 for God's sake!). Whatever happens with his hockey life is completely up to him. I'm just glad that I get to watch from behind the glass.

Anyway... he and my brother-in-law Norbert are in Canada for a hockey tournament. Long story short, the local Ottawa paper wrote a story about Norbert and Nikko. It looks like they were also fascinated about a Chamoru father who wanted his son to play hockey. (I'm assuming that they were also impressed because Nikko was the MVP of their team's first tournament match, where he scored the only goal. He was also named "Best Defenseman" in the tournament's All-Star game. Okay... enough of the proud auntie moment.) When you get a chance, check out the article!

This is my brother-in-law, Norbert Tydingco. This was taken about three years ago during Christmas. Note: His eyes are closed because he's totally feelin' the music:)

Just in case the story is down, here's the full text. If you want to see the photo of Norbert catching the puck during my Nikko's first hockey game, click here (and then click on the prompt to see a larger photo). Man! I can't believe it's been that long since Nikko was a baby. Enjoy!

Fri, December 30, 2005
Visitor loves Hockey Country
BELL CAPITAL CUP: Guam native shares passion for sport with son on California club


FOR HIS first 22 years on this planet, Norbert Tydingco lived in a tropical paradise, growing up on the tiny island of Guam in the western Pacific.

At this time of year there, the temperature reaches the 30s (yes, Celsius) and doesn't drop much lower than the low 20s at night.

Yet Tydingco gave all that up when he moved to the San Francisco Bay area where he fell for a Canadian obsession known as hockey.

The game means so much to him now that he's on the coaching staff of his son's peewee team, the Santa Clara Blackhawks, competing in this year's Bell Capital Cup.

While relatives and friends in Guam are enjoying Pacific breezes, Tydingco is experiencing a vastly different climate here in Ottawa.

"Well, let's put it this way," he said after his team's first tournament game yesterday at Carleton University. "I spent more time climbing coconut trees when I was a kid than I did skating on frozen ponds."

Tydingco never saw snow until after he moved to California and drove into the mountains near Lake Tahoe. It makes one wonder how a person from a place so foreign to a game played on ice could become so enamoured of it.


In Tydingco's case, a trip to a San Jose Sharks game against the Calgary Flames got him hooked. The diminutive Tydingco paid special attention to one particular visiting player, Theoren Fleury.

"I couldn't believe that in what's supposedly a big man's game, here's this little guy about 5-foot-6 and 160 lbs. going around out there proving everybody wrong," he said. "And I was thinking, 'That's me.' "

Tydingco told his wife Christina that night that if they ever had a son, his name would be Theoren.

And sure enough, when that baby boy came along, he was named Theoren Nicholas to go along with Tydingco -- for the planned initials TNT.

Three months later, Norbert and Christina dressed their baby in a white sleeper outfit and took him to his first NHL game in San Jose -- against Calgary and Fleury. He ended up getting a puck that flew into the stands.

"I think it was (Joe) Nieuwendyk who tipped the puck and it just started coming toward us,'' recalled Tydingco.''There I was with a baby in one arm, trying to get the puck with the other."

The moment was captured on the game broadcast, and Tydingco has an image from it posted on the team's website. Wearing a Sharks jersey, he's shown holding the puck in his right hand while cradling his son with his left arm.

The Blackhawks, coached by Gary Bortolotto whose mother is from Sudbury, will try to see as much of Ottawa as possible before the tournament wraps up Monday.

But no matter what happens in the tournament, they want to enjoy playing hockey in a city where the sport reigns supreme.

"Back home, my friends in baseball tell me to quit hockey and concentrate on baseball, but I just ignore them," said Blackhawks forward Mattia Bortolotto.

He's having too much fun with this bunch.

Forward Wesley Starr, who's considered the team comedian, had a rough day because most of his equipment was left behind in California. Luckily, he has big feet and borrowed the coach's skates, a helmet from another California team here, and shinpads that were a few inches too short.

These are the kind of lifetime memories created by tournaments such as the Bell Capital Cup.

As for Theo Tydingco, he'll go into the books as the first Santa Clara Blackhawks player to score a Bell Capital Cup goal.

Despite playing with only nine skaters because some players couldn't make the trip, the Blackhawks managed to score a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Sting in the Major Peewee AA division game.

The lone goal came late in the third when Tydingco ripped a shot from the right point through traffic to score during a power play.

It was a victory for the Blackhawks and northern California.

With an assist from Guam and its coconut trees and ocean breezes.


Gladys said...

What a great story! Congrats, "proud auntie"!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, I love it. (I love reading your blog.)And yes, I know you are a proud aunt. And my kids are PROUD to have you -- you know they love you very much! Yes, even Sonia Ann (who sometimes annoy you.) Hmmm, where did she get that from...did she inherit that trait from her namesake? Just kidding! =)
~love, your sis, tina