Kira knows that sometimes she makes Peter feel browbeaten, because she calls him so many times a day to check whether he’s done what she’s asked him to do. At the rink, Peter’s office is filled with LPs he’s ordered. He has the records delivered to the rink so that Kira won’t know how much online shopping he does. The records remind him of Isak.
Both Kira and Peter keep secrets from one another. As the coming chapter will reveal, each of them tries to find ways to cope with lingering grief without encroaching on the other. Part of their grief is the knowledge that they’ve already failed to be the parents they want to be, and they can never fix that.
Kira recalls a terrible snowstorm that hit when they hadn’t been living in Beartown for very long. The children were off school, and Peter took Maya and Leo to go tobogganing. Watching them go, Kira felt “bereft” and cried all the way to the office.
Relatively fresh from the loss of Isak, Kira’s regret at leaving the family was especially raw—a poignant image of being pulled between her aspirations and her family.
While Peter was injured in Canada and Kira was at work, Peter found himself home alone with a sickly Isak one day. None of his rocking or home remedies soothed the baby, so finally, in desperation, he put on a record. The baby finally grew quiet and fell asleep in Peter’s arms, making him feel like a good father for the last time ever. He’s never told Kira about that, but he keeps secretly buying records.
Peter’s memory of soothing Isak is the peak of good parenting in his mind; after that, he’s never been able to reach the same level. Collecting records is a way of clinging to that memory and retaining a connection to it in some way, even though he knows he can never recapture it.
That long-ago snowy day, Kira kept calling Peter. Uncharacteristically, he didn’t answer. Panicked about the weather, she sped home from work, finally stopping where she’d last seen them in the woods and clawing desperately at the snow. Ten minutes later, Peter called her—they were safely at home, and his phone had not been charged. Much later, she realized that this had been a nervous breakdown. She’s never told Peter about what happened that day. But that’s why she sometimes calls him multiple times a day.
Kira has a similar memory that she conceals from Peter. Her tough exterior hides the fact that, under the surface, she’s constantly fearful of losing her family. So she does illogical things like counting her kids at night and repeatedly calling for no reason; better to seem like she’s nagging Peter than to reveal how frightened she really is. Their parallel experiences emphasize how frightening and isolating parenting can be.
The juniors’ locker room is quiet; the players are beginning to feel nervous about tomorrow’s big game. William Lyt asks Kevin if he has any chewing tobacco. Kevin says that he doesn’t. Later, when Benji asks the same, Kevin willingly fishes out a can of tobacco and gives it to Benji. When Lyt returns, he boasts about his family coming to the game and asks if Kevin’s parents are coming, too. Benji picks up on Kevin’s body language and intervenes with a joke, telling Lyt that his family is coming to watch Kevin play, not him.
Kevin and Benji’s locker room dynamic illustrates, with very few words, how tight their bond is. Kevin clearly favors Benji over Lyt, and Benji knows that Kevin is sad about his parents’ neglect without needing to hear him say it. Just as he does on the ice, he leaps to Kevin’s defense. This scene shows the positive side of the close bonds that hockey can foster.
Amat is doing his best to appear invisible. Eventually, though, Bobo crosses the locker room and towers over him, smiling. He mockingly scolds the other guys for littering the locker room with pieces of tape—it’s not as if their mothers work there. He reminds them that it’s Amat’s mother who works there. Pretty soon, pieces of tape are raining down on Amat.
Bobo zeroes in on Amat as the one who doesn’t belong. The fact that Amat is the cleaner’s son is just one convenient target for mockery, out of the many ways—his size, his socioeconomic status, his origins—he differs from his teammates.
As the rest of the locker room empties, Kevin hangs back and asks Amat if he knows Maya—does she have a boyfriend? At last, reluctantly, Amat shakes his head. He trails the juniors out onto the ice. As they all stand at center ice, he thinks that he’s going to prove himself to these guys no matter what.
It’s worth remembering that Maya is Amat’s age, so Kevin’s interest in her would be especially galling to Amat—as well as the fact that, at this moment of Amat’s clearly not belonging to the group, Kevin touches such a raw nerve as Amat’s love for Maya.
Sune sees Peter sitting in the stands during the juniors’ practice and reflects that he’s never told Peter that he loves him. He knows Peter is driven by the fear of disappointing everyone, of not being good enough as a father, a man, or a General Manager. He watches Peter watching the junior players he’s spent the past 10 years nurturing. When Peter finally notices Amat’s presence on the ice, he laughs with surprise. Seeing this, Sune feels both joyful and sad, and he returns to his office. Deep down, he knows, he’s not indispensable, and the team will carry on without him.
Sune is the nurturing father that Peter never really had, though even Sune is reticent about expressing it. He finds joy in watching Peter make new discoveries and succeed as a coach, but—just like a biological father might—he finds that doing so also reminds him of his own decline and the fact that he’s not vital to the team’s future.
Later, after Peter returns to his office, Fatima comes in to empty the trash cans. Peter is surprised to see her. He asks her if she’s heard about Amat. He gently guides her back to the ice. When she realizes her boy is training with the junior team, she weeps with joy and stands tall despite her aching back.
Since Peter didn’t have much when he started playing hockey, he recognizes how much Amat’s breakthrough will mean to Fatima. Unlike parents like Mr. Erdahl, Fatima’s joy has nothing to do with success in its own right, but rather comes from seeing Amat enjoy opportunities he likely wouldn’t have had elsewhere.