So here’s a pretty amazing story. I am playing adult, organized, recreational ice hockey again after about a 14 year hiatus from when I dabbled in the sport while living in Chicago and (believe it or not) Charlotte, NC. I even scored my first goal of the season last week. (See video, below)
No, wait a minute. That story isn’t amazing at all.
What is amazing, is the roster of these maniacs who have been gracious enough to let me join their storied franchise. LOOK AT THEM AGES! My gawd, man, these guys are nuts!
What is absolutely the MOST amazing thing, is that three of the guys on the team started all of this 32 years ago.
They had never played ice hockey in their lives.
This is not Minnesota, or Massachusetts, or Upstate New York. This is Washington, D.C. we’re talking about. As a city, we play the sport. We have rinks. But nobody would call us a “hotbed” for the sport.
Team captain and founder Mark Becker, explained to me how this all came about….
In the fall of 1982 several of us independently of each other, signed up to play hockey in what was then called the National Novice Hockey League (NNHL). This was a league for guys like myself- we had an interest in playing but had little to no experience. In my case I had never been on skates before so I was as novice as it gets.
The league randomly put players together. I was placed on a team called the Pioneers (with a very intimidating covered wagon logo-see attached for team photo from year 2).
The front row of the photo shows Bob Glowinski,, Mark Arbesfeld and myself.
Guys like Mike Levy, Scott Slesinger and Byron Battles were in the league but on different teams- I believe Mike and Scott played together on the Bears and Byron was on the Blazers.
David Zack was on another team called the Comets.
I got to know several of these guys as the league formed new teams for the summer league. A few of us played together on summer teams and we became friends.
After about 12-14 years in NNHL-(the league was forced to change names by the NHL- That’s how they became Hockey North America), we decided to form a new team in the Montgomery Men’s Hockey League.
That is when the Mighty Old Ducks were hatched. I think we have been together about 20-22 years.
It has truly come full circle as we have a second generation Duck playing for us.
I will say that I have made many lifelong friends- 4 of us go to the Frozen 4 college hockey tournament together every year. Half of the enjoyment of the games is getting to see the guys every week.
We have attended each other’s weddings, children’s Bar Mitzvah’s, parents funerals, etc.
I think we are somewhat unique in that we play a game that is more suited for younger guys, but like you said, we are still having too much damn fun doing it.
Here’s a recent magazine write up about the lads. Just great stuff. I would like to have ANY of my “guy group activities” last 32 years! My golf trip to Pinehurst is going on Year 13, which I am dutifully impressed that we’ve kept it all together. But shit, that’s golf! Lazy ass, drink your face off, fall out of the cart – GOLF!
Here’s to the Mighty Old Ducks. Great fellas, who are scrappier than hell out on the ice, and gracious enough to invite this traffic cone to join the roster as a rookie.
Now, here’s the damn goal.
PS: I would have GLADLY showed the video of me wiping out and cracking my skull on the ice just 30 seconds before I scored, but (I swear!) it turns out it happened just off camera. Don’t worry. There will be more wipeouts. I’ll get a few good ones on video before the season is out, or until I am on season ending injured reserve.