For PV sophomore, hockey is more than a sport

Sophomore+Aidan+Tuffy+%2813%29+taking+a+faceoff+for+PV+during+one+of+its+two+outdoor+games.+Tuffy+totaled+11+points+last+season%2C+but+for+him+hockey+is+about+more+than+the+point+totals

Jake Aferiat

Sophomore Aidan Tuffy (13) taking a faceoff for PV during one of its two outdoor games. Tuffy totaled 11 points last season, but for him hockey is about more than the point totals

Jake Aferiat, Sports Editor

At the core of every family is a bond. For the Tuffy family, that bond spans across the globe.

Fueling their bond is hockey, and it’s as solid as the ice they skate on every Thanksgiving.

Once meals are eaten and plates are cleared, Bill Tuffy and his son Aidan, a sophomore at Pascack Valley, rush to their backyard to begin construction on their passion project — a makeshift hockey arena in their backyard which comes fully equipped with lights, flags and everything you need for a family affair.

Aidan posing on his family's hockey rink that gets built each Thanksgiving.
Photo provided by Bill Tuffy
Aidan posing on his family’s hockey rink that gets built each Thanksgiving.

This is a rare hockey moment the father and son get to share together.

Bill, a member of the United States Navy most recently stationed in Bahrain, has missed nearly four years of his children’s lives since joining the reserves after September 11th.

All of the time away means missed memories and missed experiences—none bigger than missing the start of something that would soon become so integral—Aidan’s learning to skate and his love of hockey.

“Aidan learned he enjoyed playing hockey during my first tour in Afghanistan,” Bill said. “He had learned to skate while I was away, and our neighbors (The Porters) had taken him up to a lake to play pond hockey.”

Hockey has always brought the father and son together, but this rink is a manifestation of that bond and of the sport that binds them.

“I’m very close with both of my kids,” Bill said. “But a love of hockey is what I share with Aidan.”

That love of hockey started at an early age for both of them.

For Bill, it was growing up with the New York Islanders who won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1979-83, and emulating the stars on that team.

For Aidan, it was playing squirt rec hockey and winning a championship.

“One of my first memories was winning my squirt rec hockey championship, and looking at my dad as I held up an inflatable Stanley Cup. That was fun,” remembers Aidan.

Aidan has come a long way since that rec hockey championship.

Wearing the “unlucky” number 13, Tuffy made an immediate impact his first year, finishing 6th on Pascack Valley in scoring, with 11 points, often playing on the second line.

He was anything but unlucky.

In fact, he was the most promising forward of PV’s underclassmen, and figures to be an integral part of the PV offense again this year.

Statistics aside, PV hockey coach Ken DelSanto sings Tuffy’s praises.

“He skates like the wind and if a shift doesn’t go right or he doesn’t have a good one, he’ll come back, sit with his teammates and try to go over what went wrong and then try to fix it when he gets back out there,” DelSanto said.

“Those are attributes you just don’t see in a younger player.”

Aidan gets that work ethic from his dad, a Navy Chief Intelligence Specialist who supports the Navy’s ground and brown-water forces.

“[He’s influenced me] in positive ways. He makes me work hard. He really makes me keep to my goals,” Aidan said.

Despite the success Aidan has enjoyed at the high school level thus far, his father hasn’t been able to witness all of them in person, but Aidan says that doesn’t matter to him.

“[Him not being there] doesn’t really bother me at all. I know there are great people recording these games for him, and I talk to him regularly, so he’s always very informed about my accomplishments,” Aidan said. “He’s not really missing out on too much when he’s away.”

His father disagrees.

I miss out on all their life events. When I am away, it puts a lot more pressure and stress on my family,” Bill said. “When I am away, my only exposure to hockey is minimal, since it’s not existent in the Middle East and we have very limited internet access.”

But through it all, both Aidan and Bill make the best of a sometimes tough situation.

“He calls frequently and he’ll even ask when the last time I mowed the lawn was,” Aidan chuckled.

Still, it’s hockey that brings the two together, and creates lasting memories for both father and son.

“My first hockey memory with him was taking him to buy some of his own gear at “Pre-Game” pro shop which used to be in Westwood,” Bill said. “His first composite stick is on our wall at home.