He’d rent an empty building to give us a place to practice our shooting. After making sure I was awake, my parents went back to bed.Tardif’s dad drove a delivery truck at night, and he would pick us up at in the morning because we could get free ice time then. What they didn’t know was that their 13-year-old son was watching the sex-line infomercials while he ate his cereal every morning.I watched women in bikinis begging me to call them, and then played hockey for a couple of hours. When I look back, it amazes me how perfect it all was.

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He plays for the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League.

Bissonnette will be contributing columns to USA TODAY Sports during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In Canada, it takes a village to raise a hockey player.

Maybe that’s a per-capita record for producing players in Canada.

All of us who played in the Welland area in the 1990s had the youth athletic experience that every child should wish for.

The local coaches – Mark Larose, Neil Blanchard, Bob Kraliz, Dave Shannon and Ray Boutin – taught us how to play the game and let us enjoy the experience.Larose was a lawyer, and he would pay rental fees out of his own pocket to give us extra ice time.When you watch New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck and New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi (who is injured) play in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you got a glimpse of what small-town Canada can do for their children.Clutterbuck and Girardi are from Welland, Ontario, a city of 50,000, located 16 miles from Niagara Falls.I also grew up there, as did Nathan Horton, Daniel Paille, Jamie Tardif, Matt Ellis and Andre Deveaux.We were all there in the same era, and all of us spent time in the NHL.