Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Assist from Above

By Steven Lienert

The Phanatic Magazine

After scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime against rival North Penn to put Pennridge into the Suburban High School Hockey League’s AA championship series nearly two weeks ago, Timothy Chubb jumped as high as the boards in celebration as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

In the back of the Rams’ locker room at Hatfield Ice 10 minutes later, Chubb was crying his eyes out with assistant coach Rich Root.

Five months ago, Chubb’s father, Tim Chubb Sr., went away on a business trip to Tampa, Florida . He suffered a heart attack and died his first day away from home.

“We saw him at practice on Friday and we found out he died on Monday,” Pennridge coach Frank Reago said. “We were like, ‘How can that be? We just saw him.’”

For Chubb, the loss of his father couldn’t have been more devastating. His father loved hockey, particularly the Flyers. His family has had season tickets since the 1970s. Chubb’s dad taught him how to skate when he was four.

“Hockey was our thing,” Chubb said. “My dad was like my best friend.”

Chubb was on the smallish side as a child, so his mom decided to hold him out of hockey for a while. In the meantime, as Chubb and his dad went down to watch the Flyers, their bond -- and their love of hockey -- grew.

When Chubb was finally ready to take the ice himself, he could always count on looking up in the stands and finding his dad. As Chubb’s skills developed, he moved up to travel teams and, eventually, the high-school team.

And Tim Chubb Sr. was at every stop along the way.

“He got to see me play all over the country,” Chubb said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see me make too much happen. I’m happy he was able to see me play hockey.”

For the past few years, Chubb and Reago didn’t see eye-to-eye on many things. Chubb kept asking his coach to put on him on the Rams’ top line with Harrison Welch and A.J. Moyer, but Reago balked at the idea several times. He felt Chubb still had work to do.

“His dad didn’t agree with me all the time (either),” Reago said. “He didn’t think I was playing Tim enough.

“Tim would ask me to put him on the first line. He never gave me attitude, but I didn’t believe in him. He earned it this year.”

Since being named to the line, Chubb has been what Moyer described as a perfect fit.

“It was a reward for hard work,” Chubb said. “I’ve been telling him for the past two seasons ‘I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.’”

Chubb understood that Welch and Moyer were going to score a bulk of the Rams’ goals and that his role was to play defense and pick up the loose change.

But his father’s sudden death threw the plan into disarray.

“He realizes,” Reago said. “I told him that he had to be the man of the house. He was playing for the Glaciers (travel team) and he stopped playing for them. He had to give up hockey. He definitely grew up big time.”

But it didn’t come without some pain.

Moyer recalled a game soon after Chubb returned from his hiatus where Chubb was understandably distracted. According to teammates, Chubb never really spoke about his father’s death.

“I think he took a few games off,” Moyer said. “When he came back at a game at Warwick (rink), I asked him if he was ok. He (opened up) and said he missed his dad. It was a tough time for him.”

It was tough for everyone, including the Rams themselves.

“I found out the day that it happened,” Moyer said. “I was shocked. I knew Mr. Chubb – I would go over and talk to him. The next day in school, everyone was like, ‘How did that happen?’”

With his sister and mother, Chubb suddenly had new responsibilities around the house that didn’t involve hockey. When he finally did return to the ice, there was one more thing that he had to deal with.

“It was weird to look up into the stands and not see him anymore,” Chubb said. “It took time. It was tough to step on the ice, look up and just see my mom.”

That’s what made the goal against North Penn so special.

“It was as if his dad was saying ‘I’m watching you,’” Reago said. “I think he can put it to rest. It was amazing. That moment will be frozen in my mind forever.”

That goal seemed to lift more than just an emotional weight off Chubb. He tallied overtime game-winners in both Game 1 and Game 3 of the SHSHL championship series against Central Bucks South, the latter of which propelled them to the championship.

During the trophy presentation following the game, Chubb took the hardware and skated over to the boards while Pennridge fans chanted his father’s name.

Furthermore, Chubb and the Rams skate in the first round of the Flyers Cup on Thursday.

“I’m sure he would have loved it,” Chubb said. “Before every game, Frank says a prayer and I do a personal one myself. I tell my dad this one’s for him.”

Undoubtedly, Tim Chubb Sr. will have one of the best seats in the house.

Steve Lienert is a sportswriter for the Montgomery Media Group. You can reach him at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quite possibly the best piece you've written on this site - keep up the good work!