Mice at Centre Ice

Will Benny the Bullet and the other Mouse Hockey Leaguers get the Cheddar Cup back from the Rink Rats? What dangers await brave Benny? Can any of them be any worse than the steel blades of the great Zamboni machine?

Published in 2004 by Estelle Salata
First published: Scarborough, Ont.: Nelson Canada, 1984

ISBN 0-9734436-0-X


Amazing as if i was a child again 🙂 Can’t wait to read this to my children

C. Nickerson


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Estelle Salata

Email: esalata@cogeco.ca

255 Governors Rd, Apt 207

Dundas, Ontario L9H 3K4


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I came up with the idea for Mice at Centre Ice when I decided to write a hockey novel about real kids. Then, an artist friend wrote to me from Toronto to ask, “When are you going to write that hockey book?” On the outside of the envelope she had drawn a picture of a mouse wearing safety pin skates and a walnut shell helmet, carrying a Popsicle Hockey stick taped together with scotch tape, and a big red M emblazoned on his shirt. That’s when the idea came to life for me. Why not write about mice playing hockey instead of kids? Mice at Centre Ice has sold approximately 100,000 copies to schools since 1984 when it was published.

Discuss pertinent “hockey terms”. (eg. NHL, Stanley Cup, the Forum, slap shots, dekes, offsides, penalties, regulations regarding sticks etc.) period, playoff, blue line, stickhandling, referee, breakaway


Chapter 1
Page 8 lounged
Page 11 scurried
Page 11 legendary
Page 11 revive
Page 11 gourmet
Chapter 2
Page 16 Holy Grail
Page 16 Golden Fleece
Page 16 parallel
Page 22 pedestal
Page 24 swaggered
Chapter 3
Page 26 jubilant
Page 27 Trojan Horse
Chapter 4
Page 28 profile
Page 29 pirouetted
Page 29 sluggish
Page 29 shinny
Page 30 deked
Page 30 panatela
Page 35 heist
Chapter 5
Page 37 Madame Butterfly
Page 37 Puccini
Page 40 hairpin turn
Page 40 quest
Page 42 abruptly
Chapter 6
Page 44 intruders
Page 50 reluctantly
Chapter 7
Page 53 Zamboni
Page 55 auger
Page 55 cascade
Page 57 menacing
Page 58 gamely
Chapter 8
Page 59 coarse
Page 59 harrowing
Page 59 ordeal
Page 60 hydraulic
Page 62 rummaged
Page 63 fitful
Chapter 9
Page 65 aroused
Page 65 sympathetic
Chapter 10
Page 72 shunted
Page 72 covey
Page 74 rubble
Page 74 kapok
Page 75 indignantly
Page 77 mottled
Page 77 mangy
Chapter 11
Page 78 unnerving
Page 83 instinct
Page 84 veered
Page 84 lurched
Chapter 12
Page 86 utter
Page 87 overcome
Page 92 eulogy
Chapter 13
Page 94 defected
Page 94 le Metro
Page 99 sieve
Page 100 creed
Page 102 pulverize
Page 102 unison
Chapter 14
Page 104 jeered
Page 107 elated
Page 110 finesse
Chapter 15
Page 114 fink
Page 116 crosscheck
Page 117 fumes


The vocabulary can be used before reading or for activities afterwards. Word searches, crosswords, spelling activities or vocabulary assignments could accompany or follow the reading assignments.

To maintain story flow and interest it is suggested that the novel be read in segments of three chapters per assignment. Following is a brief resume and some general discussion questions for each chapter.

Chapter 1: Hockey Night
We meet a group of mice that live in the Forum and play hockey after hours. They decide to revive the past glory of the MHL and the Cheddar Cup, which, unfortunately has been stolen by the Rink Rats.

  • Name the characters you have met so far.
  • Give a few details about each character’s personality.
  • Where is the story taking place?
  • What important decision is made?


Chapter 2: Trapped
The mice go off in search of the Cheddar Cup and by eavesdropping discover its location. Big Boris who issues the challenge, “Well, if you want the Cup, come and get it,” interrupts their scouting mission. Anytime.”

  • Why is the Cheddar Cup so important to the mice?
  • How did the mice manage the travelling in the MHL?
  • How was the Cheddar Cup lost?


Chapter 3: Never Venture! Never Win!
A skateboard becomes the vehicle for the great rescue plan.

  • Briefly outline the plan to recover the Cheddar Cup?
  • Explain the skateboard being compared to a Trojan horse?


Chapter 4: Shinny
The Rink Rats watch a mouse practice and laughingly decided that maybe they will play the mice for the Cup again. However, the heist plan is already in effect.

  • Discuss the two new characters introduced.
  • How realistic is the game of shinny as compared to a real game?
  • What challenge did Boris issue?
  • How did the mice react to the challenge?


Chapter 5: The Skateboard
The great heist plan is launched.

  • What preparations were made for the heist?
  • What obstacles did the mice meet on the way to the Cheddar?


Chapter 6: A Close Shave
A loudspeaker and subterfuge are the tools for tricking the guard rats into loading the Cup and moving it themselves. Boris returns, the ruse is discovered and Benny offers himself as the lure and leads the rats on a merry chase – right into a Zamboni.

  • This chapter ends in a ‘cliffhanger’. Discuss.
  • What are the possible outcomes?


Chapter 7: The Great Zamboni Machine
A ‘chilling’ life and death battle with the Zamboni ensues. Benny survives only to fall into the clutches of Jake – the cleanup man.

  • The Zamboni presented more than one danger to Benny. Discuss.
  • This is another ‘cliffhanger’. What do you think will happen?


Chapter 8: The Garbage Truck
From a garbage container to a garbage truck! Benny’s trials continue as he finally ends up at the dump.

  • Would you describe Jake as a kind or a cruel man? Why?
  • How did it appear to Benny?


Chapter 9: The Big M
Benny meets the Big M – another hockey playing mouse. They plan a return to the Forum on Truck 51.

  • Describe Benny’s new surrounding. Describe the Big M.
  • Why was the Big M excited to hear about the Cheddar Cup?
  • What plan did Benny and the Big M decide upon?


Chapter 10: The Dump
the Big M takes Benny home to rest up for the next night’s adventure.

  • This Chapter reminds us of “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse”. Discuss.


Chapter 11: The Cat
A cat stakes out the Big M’s home – an abandoned car. Benny dekes out the cat in a mad dash for the dump truck.

  • Continue “City Mouse/Country Mouse” discussion.
  • How did Benny’s hockey training help him?


Chapter 12: The Hero Returns
Benny and the Big M return to the Forum in time to interrupt Benny’s funeral service.

  • What is a eulogy?
  • How did Benny’s friends react to his return?


Chapter 13: The Challenge
The mice meet the Rats in a championship Cheddar Cup game.

  • Discuss the MHL Players’ Creed (p101)
  • Is it a reasonable creed for human hockey players to follow?


Chapter 14: The Big Game
In spite of unfair and rough play on the part of the Rats, at the end of the second period the score is tied.

Chapter 15: The Cheddar Cup
The Cup is won!

  • Describe the dirty tricks tried by the Rats
  • How did the ice overcome them?
  • In spite of superior size and unfair play on the part of the Rats, the mice still won. Why?
  • Does this suggest a moral? If so, what?
  • Why was Benny so sure he’d never see the Big M again?
1. Prepare a sequence chart listing the main crises and their resolutions.
2. Do character sketches (verbal and pictorial) that outline physical description as well as personality traits.
3. How does the author feel hockey should be played? give the reasons her rules and principles are suitable for a “human” hockey league.
4. Choose one of the settings and construct a diorama. Real scrap items (eg. wrappers, cracker jack boxes) could be used to provide realism and scale.
5. List the similarities between the MHL and the NHL (eg Cheddar Cup vs. the Stanley Cup)
6. Prepare a play-by-play radio tape of the big game. It could include player interviews between periods. (Interviewer in mouse ears with a hockey stick microphone).
7. Do a copy of “Mouse Hockey News” that followed the championship. Include, story, headlines, pictures, player comments, etc.
8. Read “Casey at the Bat”. Paraphrase the poem and substitute Benny at the Net or similar title.
9. Obtain a copy of “Houndpower”. Rewrite the song as “Mousepower”.
10. Benny is fond of sayings such as “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”. “Never venture, never win”, “Good riddance to bad rubbish.” etc. Choose one of Benny’s sayings and make a poster illustrating the truth of it.
11. Make pogs of Benny the Bullet, Figaro the Flyer, Mizzy Mouse, etc. (round cardboard discs that are used like sports cards).
12. Make a set of hockey cards with a picture of a player and a description of his attributes on each one.
13. What other animals could be in the arena? Names – based on your city/town.
14. Hockey – Rules of the game – positions – referees – traditions – superstitions -nutrition, oranges vs cigar butts, food at the dump.
15. Zamboni – how it works – machinery for shaving ice, clearing snow, spray boiling water, smoothing ice.
16. Garbage removal – Visit a dump – how processed in Your city (SWARU) Ecology – overfill – recycling.
17. Mapping – plans of attack – Perhaps construct a game (on a map) to get the Cheddar Cup. (Several teachers have designed board games).
18. Skateboard contests outside.
19. Cheddar Cup game outside.
20. Sports equipment – for protection. How would mice or whatever make equipment – what materials could they use?
21. Reasons for safety rules – seat belts, bicycle helmets, etc.
22. Sportsmanship – rules (creed, fair play, cheating).
23. Field trips – Visit an arena, a Cheese Factory. (In Hamilton, one teacher took her class to Sam Manson’s sports store in Hamilton, ON where Pops Kinesky, a real person who owned the store, used to make hockey pads stuffed with deer hair).
24. Opera
25. French – National anthem in French.
26. Stanley Cup – history (pictures)
27. Make a paper maché Cheddar Cup (Fill it with cheeses)
  • Model mice – paper maché pulp, clay, puppets
  • use the type of things that the mice used for equipment
  • make dioramas of an ice rink

  28.Cheeses – various kinds – how made – where they came from –

  • cheeses of the world.
  • make a cheese info book complete with recipes.
  • preservatives – mould – shelf life.


  • hockey players
  • mice books – animals talking like humans, etc.
  • icons – things that stand for something important Holy Grail, Golden Fleece, Trojan Horse.

  30.Rats/Mice – contrast, similarities  31.Nicknames – according to interests, what people do, what they look like.  32.Loudspeaker – why it amplifies – get into sound.  33.Writing a story – plot, characters, setting, outline, mood (suspense) turning point, high point.  34.One teacher wrote to tell me that she had completed a novel study of my book, had hockey playoffs, designed mouse uniforms out of fabric and junk, made a mural of the forum ice surface with players and then had a wind-up where they ate cheese, crackers and gave out awards to the winners of the Cheddar Cup. “The possibilities of activities to go along with this book are endless,” she wrote.