After the events of the previous chapter, Saul starts to notice small things about the Moose team’s games with white opponents—for example, many white hockey players refuse to take off their gloves to shake hands with Indigenous Canadian players.
As Saul gets older, he begins to see just how openly prejudiced the rest of the country is: in ways both big and small, white Canadians treat Indigenous people as second-class citizens.
The Moose are invited to play in a tournament in a remote town that’s home to a supposedly excellent team, the Lumber Kings. When the Moose arrives, white players from other teams laugh at them and whisper, “We’re taking your scalps!”
The Moose have to put up with offensive, stereotyping insults on a regular basis. It adds a psychic and emotional dimension to their gameplay that makes it all the more challenging to be at peak performance.
The first game of the tournament is against a team called the Nuggets. When it begins, the Moose take an early lead. But whenever Saul scores a goal, fans of the Nuggets throw trash at him. The game ends with a Moose victory, 7-4. Many of the Nuggets players refuse to shake hands with the Moose players.
The Moose triumph in their hockey game, but unlike in previous chapters, their talent doesn’t win over the racist crowd.
In their next game, the Moose players face a team called the Clippers. One of the Clippers players tells Saul, “Watch your head,” just before the game begins. During the game, Clipper players slash Saul’s skates, push him, and call him “squaw hopper.” Some of Saul’s teammates tell him, “Hit the fuckers back,” but Saul insists, “That ain’t my game.” The Moose end up losing the game. After the game, Saul complains to Virgil that the Moose deserved to win—the Clippers kept on making illegal, aggressive plays, and the referees looked the other way. Virgil tells Saul that the team’s upcoming games won’t be any easier.
As Saul gets older, his opponents begin treating him more brutally. In hockey, referees are supposed to prevent outright riots from breaking out—but because of the racism of the referees themselves, it’s suggested, Saul has to put up with unfair aggression from other teams. For the time being, however, Saul refuses to sink to the level of his bullies and tormentors: he loves hockey too much to allow himself to become another punk who fights on the ice.
In the next game, players push and shove Saul, and even the fans spit at him. The fans throw so much trash into the rink that the referee is forced to call a timeout. In the dressing room with his teammates, Saul is quiet but furious. He knows that his teammates want him to fight back, but he refuses. When it’s time for the Moose to return to the rink, Saul is ready to win. He recalls, “There wasn’t one of those players who could skate with me.”
As Saul experiences more racism from his opponents, he becomes an angrier person. At first, Saul refuses to fight, but compensates with pride and even arrogance. Instead of celebrating the beauty of the game of hockey itself, Saul is now celebrating himself—a way of coping with the racism of the other team.