Only sore point so far for Canadian men's curlers

Neate Sager

There used to be — maybe there still is — a line of hats, T-shirts and bumper stickers that read, "Give Blood: Play Hockey."

It turns out that holds true, especially when you get the men's curling team against the women's hockey team for, as we say, a game of mini-sticks. Mini-sticks? Weird injuries? It's as Canadian as Robin Scherbatsky after a twelver of Molson.

"The start of the sixth end between Canada and Sweden was momentarily delayed Thursday at the Winter Olympics while on-ice officials wiped tiny red droplets from the ice.

" ... 'We had a little fun mini-sticks hockey game against some of the Canadian women's hockey team in our athletes' village room and it got a little — well, the sticks are so small right, so you get a little rug burn down on your hands and knees,' said Canadian second Marc Kennedy, sloppily-applied bandages sticking to his left elbow. " 'I nicked (the scab) on my glove and opened it up.' "

Canadian lead Ben Hebert did the bean-spilling: Meaghan Mikkelson, a defender on the Canadian women's hockey team, got her nose bloodied in the game about a week ago.

"In the main lobby there are two full-size hockey nets. One night we took the hockey nets up to our suites and bought some mini-sticks and had a battle [with the women’s hockey team].

"[There were] a couple of rug burns on the knees and elbows from falling on the carpet and Meaghan Mikkelson had a bleeding nose but they seem to be doing okay.

“We were just trying to warm them up for their games."

For the uninitiated, mini-sticks is arguably the third-most-popular version of hockey, fourth if you count video games. Street hockey and the full-fledged version are the first two.

Since the 1980s, when some genius had the idea to market 18-inch-long sticks splashed with team nicknames and logos, it's been a major time-passer for youth hockey teams who are cooped up in a hotel during out-of-town tournaments.

Some of the games could get feistier than the actual games on ice. Apparently, the same holds in the athletes' village. As Canadian skip Kevin Martin told The Canadian Press: "You got the little hockey sticks in the village and those big rooms." It's perfectly normal.