The juniors are playing at 75%, so as not to risk injury before tomorrow’s game. But Amat has to give it his all. The juniors look for every chance to hurt him, and he hears them laughing behind his back. David decides that Amat and Bobo should do some one-on-one. He knows Amat is exhausted from almost two back-to-back training sessions, but, after all, “no stars are born without others […] being sacrificed.”
Amat’s situation in this practice session is emblematic of his position within the community—where others can afford to hold back a bit, he lacks that luxury. And David has his own reasons for singling out Amat—since his “stars” come first, he needs to see that Amat is willing to give everything to support the team.
David sets up a narrow line of cones, within which a defenseman and a forward must face off. The forward must try to get past the defenseman within the very limited space. This time, the line is so narrow that it’s obvious that Amat doesn’t stand a chance of not meeting Bobo head-on. Sure enough, Bobo knocks Amat down with all his weight. David gestures for them to do it again, while Lars roars at Amat to get up, and the teammates laugh. At one point, Bobo looks at Amat with something like genuine sympathy, and Amat realizes that David is using him as a sacrifice to build up team confidence. Bobo whispers to him to just stay on the ice, but Amat yells, “Again!” until Bobo relents and flattens him once more. Despite the fact that he’s now dripping blood, Amat won’t give up—how could they do anything worse to him than what they’ve already done? He charges at Bobo at full speed, but at the last second, he folds double, watches the angle of Bobo’s skates, slips the puck and himself out of Bobo’s reach at the last second, then shoots and scores a goal. He is “a lion among bears.”
The confrontation between Bobo and Amat, while painful to watch, provides Amat with the chance to prove himself that he’s been hungry for. While he could give up or ask for mercy, he knows he has nothing to lose by throwing himself unreservedly into the exercise. His gamble pays off. At the last moment, he uses his ability to see better than most to outmaneuver Bobo. In other words, he puts his lion-like qualities up against the bears, demonstrating how an alternative approach can be just as successful as a conventional one.
Bobo pursues Amat in “blind fury,” but Benji stops him. David decides to include Amat in tomorrow’s game. It takes Amat half an hour to stagger to the locker room, where he finds that his clothes have been thrown in the shower. Nevertheless, “it’s the best day of his life.”
Benji admires Amat’s fighting spirit, and David sees enough to convince him that Amat will be valuable to the team as a whole. Even though the team still humiliates Amat, by now it’s more like hazing, signaling that he’s part of the group, than outright mockery. It’s telling that even this painful kind of inclusion is still valuable enough to make this the “best day” of Amat’s life.