“He plays to play. He skates to skate. He don’t make a million bucks a year!! He loves the game of hockey!! He loves it.” –Bailey Pruitt, Mystery, Alaska (1999).
They love the game of hockey! The stands are almost empty, except for some wives, a couple of friends and some players waiting for their game to start. They love the game of hockey! They skate, okay, but they love the game! They pass, okay, and they love the game! They shoot, sometimes score, and they love the game of hockey. Then, afterwards, they talk about it because they love the game! And so do I!
Was anyone else freezing their *** off?
I found this totally by accident. I went online one day, after watching Miracle (2004), to look for a 1980 USA jersey. After ordering and re-ordering and emails back and forth, I found out that their pro-shop was right around the corner from where I live.
So, I went there to see the place. I had passed it several times while going somewhere else and finally, I had an excuse.
I met two gentlemen, Tracy and John. That’s when I found out about the league, as these two were part of it. They told me that they play Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CDT (7:30 EDT) and on Sundays, pretty much, all day starting at 10 a.m. CDT (11 EDT).
Last Sunday evening, I went to watch them play, and for someone who loves hockey like I do, it was great!
Ok, so I didn’t prepare like I should have. Boy, was it cold in there. On a day that was close to 100 degrees in Okieland, I was freezing, and I’m from Detroit.
They had to ask the question…
When I stopped playing 25 years ago, I didn’t think anyone was going to ask me ever again. They asked if I was interested in playing. What a shocker! It almost gave this old man a heart attack.
Now, where I grew up, Hockeytown, there were about two things you could do during the winter. You could clean the house or play hockey at the frozen baseball field. I opted for the latter, of course. No way I was staying home to clean house.
So, I played and played...day in and day out. We started early in the morning and played until we couldn’t see the puck anymore.
Did I freeze? Not like I did the other night in that arena. After one period, I went back outside, in the 90-plus degree weather, and unfroze myself. It took about 10 minutes, and then I was ready for more.
I ended up staying in a sort-of waiting area between the pro shop and the ice rink with the others, who knew better than I, waiting for the game to end.
A Gentleman’s Game
If you think this is like watching the NHL or the IHL or the CHL or whatever pro or semi-pro league you are used to, then you will be disappointed in what happens on the ice. They play by gentleman’s rules.
They don’t check against the boards, at least not on purpose. There are no slap-shots at the goalie when one team is dominating the other. They do have referees, and there are penalties, icings and off-sides called.
Basically, they are nice to each other on the ice and they play just to play. Just to get back on the ice. Just to handle the puck once again. Just to score one more time.
And for some, it’s a chance to relive or reminisce about times past. Some played like me, just for fun. Others may have tried out for a college or pro team. Still others probably played seriously and then had to leave for one reason or another. But they still play the game they love.
But what about the game?
For those who love the Coolest Game On Ice, log onto www.oilersicecenter.com. Find out about the league, public skating, lessons, youth leagues, etc. They have a pro shop with just about anything you need for ice or inline hockey and skating.
If you need to clog your arteries a little more, there is a snack-shack when you get hungry or thirsty. You can call them at 918-252-0011. Maybe you would like to relive your past and join a team. They are always looking for players.
Oh, I almost forgot. The Spirit beat the Road Kill (love the team names) 6-2. Check out the site for more standings and schedules and maybe, just maybe, you can relive a time past from your youth.