Living the dream

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Ross MacIntyre was back home on the farm outside Brock, Saskatchewan, yesterday, feeling a little like he'd just returned to Kansas from Oz.

"That was pretty surreal," Steve McIntyre's dad said of the weekend in Edmonton.

"To go to your first NHL game and watch your son play for his favourite team as a kid, in the arena where he always dreamed of playing, on Hockey Night in Canada yet, and do what he did was pretty amazing.

"To have that many people jumping and screaming for your son, that was kind of neat."

Steve MacIntyre was such a huge hit with his game-changing crunching check on Calgary's Dustin Boyd and subsequent pounding of Brandon Proust which led to an Oilers win over the Flames, it turned into a night to treasure forever - no matter what happens in his career.

"They were in awe," reported Steve of his family.

"I was in awe. I can't believe the way it all played out, right down to being on Hockey Night in Canada. I think three-quarters of the people in Brock were probably watching."

The entire population of Brock is 130 when everybody's in town.

"I think dad was pretty proud," said Steve.

There was that private moment when a father puts his hand on his son's shoulder and words didn't have to be said when they both knew they were thinking, back to that day when Steve had been banished from the Charlotte Checkers of the East Coast Hockey League to the Quad City Mallards of the United Hockey League .

Steve called home just before Christmas, ready to pack it in.

"He hadn't been home for Christmas in seven years," said Ross.

LOST INTEREST

"He'd lost interest in pounding on some kid trying to make a name for himself. He had a new baby and he was missing his wife and kids. We chatted a bit. It's a credit to both he and his wife that he decided to continue on. He could have missed this"

After practice yesterday, MacIntyre said it was his dad who convinced him to keep playing.

"He told me you can only do this for so long and to give it a couple more years. He told me I was getting paid to play a sport that I loved. I was really at the end of my rope. I'd lost my desire to keep playing. He kept me going."

Quad City, Iowa, is a long way from the NHL.

Being able to go from playing in Quad City two years ago to inviting your dad and your uncle Dale into the league's state-of-the-art dressing room after your first NHL home game was a big deal.

"To see those Stanley Cups and everything, to see his sticks all lined up under his number 33 and his name above his stall and that incredible set-up behind the scenes was an experience in itself," said Ross.

Steve is still trying to get used to the idea of going to the next game by plane instead of some of the bus trips he's endured in the minors.

"The plane trips are pretty cool," he said, pointing out that the bus trip from Quad City to play the Elmira Jackals in the playoffs was 14 hours.

I doubt if either father or son is aware of the fact that on occasion the Oilers invite all the player's dads on the charter to take a road trip with the team.

Sunday was a day for Steve to savour what had happened the night before for his dad, mom Candy, uncle Dale and wife Briana as they all went to West Edmonton Mall.

THRILL

Ross said his son told him about the thrill of getting his first NHL paycheque (salary of $535,000 if he survives the season), which came pretty close to the $45,000 he made all last year with Providence of the AHL.

But he said the only thing his son bought for himself on the Sunday shopping trip was a new pair of cowboy boots.

"He's still on last year's budget," said his dad.

The photo-op of the day would have been when they went in the Oilers Store with all the fans and bought a whole bunch of souvenirs and logo stuff.

"We bought a little memorabilia, a few things for my wife to take home to Charlotte, to the kids and a few Christmas presents, too," Steve said of his three children, Cody, Kalyme and Kiara.

His mom, dad and uncle drove home Sunday night- but not before buying a bunch of newspapers.

"We had to bring the papers home for grandma and grandpa and a few other people we knew would want a copy," said Ross.

"We just couldn't believe it," he said of the Edmonton Sun coverage, headlined by "SmackIntyre!!!"

That explains the circulation spike.


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