The Long Island Royals had hockey practice late last Tuesday night. At the crack of dawn on Thursday, the team hit the road for the five-plus-hour drive up to New Hampshire for a weekend-long tournament. They'll practice tonight and Wednesday night, then they'll fly to Chicago on Thursday for another multi-game showcase, this one sponsored by Nike and Bauer. And a few days after that, they'll face one of their biggest tests of the season: having to sit down with their coaches and go over their grades.
"November 10 is the big day," the Royals' head coach said to me over the phone last week, sounding not unlike a tough-but-fair high school principal. "We actually want to know where they are. It's a big year for these kids. We've only got three 15-year-olds, and the rest are 16, so it's an SAT year."
He ought to know: One of the team's soon-to-be standardized test takers is his own son — the back of whose Royals jersey ought to look mighty familiar to local hockey fans on Long Island: