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One Last Moment for Michel Breistroff

Shir Madness

By Shira A. Springer

Jamin Kerner was still wearing his prep school colors.

He had waited four mouths for this moment and yet, the Milton Academy sheild dotted his navy blue tie. His family and his best friend traveled from his native Montreal to be here for his first collegiate game, to watch him score his first collegiate goal. It was a big day.

Michel Breistroff's father was still wearing his dead son's number seven jersey and hockey jacket.

The similarities between the father's and son's faces made the elder Breistroff an eerie reminder of the past. If he could have traveled back in time to avoid this moment and all the tragedy to Flight 800, he would have.

Michel's family and friends had traveled from France and other parts near and far to be here for one last goodbye, to stand for a moment of silence in Michel's honor, to watch the color guard present the French flag and to hear the French national anthem played. It was a big day.

In memory of Breistroff, two black pucks encircling the number seven with the initials MB underneath have been placed in front of each bench. This year's uniforms feature the same insignia on the left shirtsleeve.

After the game, Jamin Kerner talked excitedly about playing in a Harvard uniform. No, he was not nervous. He was not the type that got nervous before games. A goal in his first game, well, he couldn't have written it any better. What a beginning.

Just over Kerner's left shoulder the Breistroff entourage was waiting in a crowded tunnel underneath Bright Hockey Center unsure of what to do next. During the intermission between the first and second periods, a friend of Michel's had spotted Mr. Breistroff in the crowd. How are you, Mr. Breistroff? Mr. Breistroff shrugged. Well, what can you say?

Closure is a difficult commodity to come by in college athletics. Players come and go, there are good years and there are bad years. In hockey, the end of one season blends into spring and summer of weight lifting and dry land training, then there is Midnight Madness and an exhibition game two weeks later.

And so it was this past Saturday night after an exhibition game against the Polish National team. Janus-like, the past--always to be remebered--and the future--waiting to be written--stood back to back. Mr. Breistroff in his son's Harvard hockey jersey and jacket, Jamin Kerner in his Milton Academy tie.

Each, in his own way, honoring Michel.

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