Since the fall of 2001, I have been playing hockey in an adult league at the Fredericksburg Ice Park. In the following fall of 2002, remnants from my first team, Purple, and some rogue elements from the other teams in the league decided to band together. Brought together by a love for Canadian beer and a fear of the people who produce it, the group decided to bring fun back to hockey in the Fredericksburg adult league.
It began on the ice and spilled over to the post-game festivities. With libations, junk food and folding chairs, we turned the rink parking lot into our own weekly Woodstock. It provided a forum for us to learn the extent of each others depravities and to clear the air regarding on-ice disputes. We adopted the mailman credo and suffered through all the elements that Virginia could throw at us.
During this period, I spied a cutie working at the rink. Upon finding out she was joining the hockey league, I responsed with, “You’re dead!” Initially she took me to be serious. After some post pick-up flirting, she understood my sense of humor. There was a tumultuous courtship, but ever since, Ashley has been my love.
After several run-ins with the local police, who must have viewed Peter Bondra as a prime suspect in some unsolved crime, our post-game caravan was forced to moved to a new location. The team adopted it’s first and only official lodge in a small establishment called Sullivan’s Irish Pub (R.I.P.). This allowed us to upgrade our food and beverage options and protect ourselves from the elements. This lead to longer nights and considerably less productive Mondays at work.
Soon the team found itself gathering on weekends and Friday nights for Tonight Show style banter and go-kart rallies. These social events became fertile grounds for producing such team nicknames as The Basher, Wellies, Silky, The Crane and the now infamous, The Humper. For me, my teammates became more than friends. They became “the guys I play hockey with” (inside joke).
The team became such a movement, that corporate sponsorship was needed in the fall of 2002. The team adopted the monicker Clock Cleaners. The name was taken from the sponsor’s, the Australian guy on the team, chosen profession. Several imitators appeared, but ours was truly the only team and family.
The following year, after a record price was paid for corporate naming rights, we became the Headhunters. The reclusive millionaire and team goalie Neil Mairs, used his considerable wealth from his company Solutions Recruiting, to transform the organization into the premier beer league in the city. A management team was formed to bring on several high-profile free agents that had be on the radar for several seasons. These transactions were focused on adding talent to an already established team and in The Humpers case, the post-game frivolity.
Around this time, our team captain Gordon Miller took on responsibilities of being our official team historian. Documenting on and off the ice escapades, Gordon’s Three Stars became weekly intellectual nourishment. On Monday, the work day did not begin until the Three Stars hit the inbox followed shortly by several responses of varying hilarity. Theories as to how the content of these emails slipped through several goverment system filters still abound. I think having a colonel on the team opens up additional lines of communication.
During the summer of 2004, I was blessed to play with my linemate in life. Ashley joined the team and brought with her an exquisite saucer pass. I began enjoy watching her skate and mixing it up as much as playing myself. At the beginning of the fall season, the “Love Connection” was formed when both Ashley and I assisted on each others goal. The “Love Connection” will continue in various forms.
To all my teammates and the extended family of the Headhunters, I want to thank you for accepting an enigmatic Minnesotan. You helped me enjoy the game again that has always been a considerable part of my life. You allowed me to live a passion and erase the dissapoint of the glory days. All of you have become an important part of my life and I hope the you know that. I hope the impact I made on your lives was positive and that it compensates for the occassional vulgarities that reflected off the rink rafters and into your kids ears (they’ll learn it on the bus anyways). Never feel that I would not appreciate to receive a call, email or visit from you. You are and will always be part of who I am.
Thanks Ashley, Gord, Neil, Steve, Rich, RJ, John, Tom, Al, Gary, Kris, Jim, all former players and friends of the Headhunters, best eva!
- Fall 2001-2002: Purple (G. Miller, S. Kelly, G. Olsen, J. Habel, J. McKinzie)
- Summer 2002: Green (Remnants and Rogues)
- Fall 2002-2003: Clock Cleaners
- Summer 2003: Headhunters
- Fall 2003-2004: Headhunters (Champsionship)
- Summer 2004: Headhunters
- Fall 2004-2005: Headhunters