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The Game

Ice Breaker: the Card Hockey Board Game. This is not a deep game. From a dwindling hand of five cards, players play singles, doubles or triples to move the puck into scoring position. Coloured squares on the board produce random events such as body checks, penalties, face-offs, breakaways and great passes. When the puck is in the shooting zone, players each select a card and the high card wins, producing a save or a goal. There is a high level of luck but careful hand management is key.

The Players

(1) Alexander is six years old. He loves playing any kind of board game with his Dad. Alexander is an experienced Ice Breaker player. He has gone through several phases in his play. First, he always played the high card from his hand. After I explained that this was predictable, he started to always play the low card. Now he understands the value of varying his card choice. He still tends to play a low card on face-offs (but not always!). He also cannot resist telling me little bits of information about his hand. He always likes to gloat when he draws a card with the opposing team’s logo on it (which gives special bonuses to that team). ‘Ha, ha, I’ve got your card,’ he always laughs.

(2) Dad is 33 years old. I love to play board games with my son. It is just amazing to see his mind absorbing the information and adjusting. Like most Dads I play down to the level of my children to make the game fun for them. But I don’t have to play down to Alexander with Ice Breaker. He’s a good player.


Alexander graciously offers to let his Dad pick which team he wants to play. However, Dad insists that Alexander pick first. Result? Alexander plays the Vancouver Canucks (Dad’s favourite team). Dad settles for second best - the Calgary Flames. The venue is the kitchen table, which doubles on this occasion as the old reliable Saddledome in downtown Calgary, Alberta. (I remember watching many a game there with my Dad while growing up in Cowtown.)

First Period

The teams line up, the puck is dropped, and the game is on!

1. Save Alex. Joker beats Ace
2. Goal Dad. K falls to 10 of diamonds (Flames logo is trump)
3. Goal Alex. Joker beats 10
4. Save Alex. Jack of clubs beats 6
5. Goal Dad. 3 falls to Ace of clubs

Summary: Dad had the most chances this period (4 vs 1) and finished the period up by a goal. Alex managed to score on his lone chance and was still in the game at this point.

Score: Calgary 2, Vancouver 1

Second Period

The zamboni has left the ice. The teams are on the bench. Bring on period number 2!

1. Goal Alex. 7 of spades (with Canucks logo for trump) beats pair of Queens
2. Save Dad. Jack of diamonds falls to King of spades
3. Save Alex. 5 of hearts beats 3 of spades
4. Save Alex. Pair of 6's beats pair of 5's
5. Save Dad. 4 of spades falls to Ace of diamonds
6. Goal Dad. 2 falls to Jack of clubs
7. Save Dad. King falls to Ace of spades
8. Save Dad. Ace falls to pair of 3's
9. Save Alex. 4 of clubs (with Canucks logo for trump) beats pair of 8's

Summary: Alex started off with a brilliant play from the opening face-off to even the score. He made good use of his trump cards and was able to take the momentum of play. Still, Dad managed to keep the score even in this period, meaning that Calgary still had the lead at the end of two.

Score: Calgary 3, Vancouver 2

Period 3

On to period 3. Calgary holds the lead, but Vancouver can still make things interesting.

1. Goal Dad. 10 falls to Ace of clubs
2. Goal Dad. 9 falls to 4 of spades (with Calgary logo for trump)
3. Goal Alex. Queen of spades beats Jack of diamonds
4. Save Alex. Jack of clubs beats 4 of clubs
5. Save Dad. Queen falls to 9 of clubs (with Calgary logo for trump)
6. Goal Alex. A pair of 8's beats a King
7. Save Dad. Jack falls to Ace of spades
8. Save Dad. 7 falls to 10 of spades.

Summary: What a wild period! Calgary scored a couple of quick ones to put the game out of reach (so it seemed), but Alexander hung in there to make it close. The comeback fell just short, although Alexander had a couple of good chances at the end to tie it up. Final chances were even, with each team having 11 shots on goal.

Final score. Calgary 5, Vancouver 4.

Final thoughts: Alexander’s Vancouver Canucks had some chances at the end to tie the game. Alexander quite enjoyed the drama of the stirring comeback. He could have packed it in when the score was 5-2, but he kept on playing. What a great little sportsman. Next time, Alexander assures me, he is going to win for sure!! Ah, what could be better for a Canadian Dad than to teach his son the nuances of the greatest sport on earth.

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Hans Larsen
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Top shelf session review!!!!
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