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Honoring One of the Goalie Guild

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  • Honoring One of the Goalie Guild

    Monday I had one of those "Great moments are born from great opportunity" kind of nights, remembering one of us who is gone too soon.

    Pete was in the Air Force like me. He was someone I met when I was stationed out west; he showed up at a stick and puck one day and of course I notice the new goalie. He was slow and rusty, but had some experience in goal and was getting back into the game after a long time away. He worked his way into the fabric of the local hockey community over the next few years. His dedication, determination, and love of the game helped him make huge strides in his skill, and he was a busy, popular goaltender. He wore #9. Eventually some of us moved away for work, as he also did a little while later. He died unexpectedly this past summer, and left a big hole in the hearts of those left behind.

    Monday I had the great privilege to play in an inaugural Army/Navy game at the Verizon Center here in DC, immediately after the Capitals game. The Army/Navy game featured members from all services (I played for Army), and was put on as part of Rivalry Week and to get folks pumped for this weekend's big football game. It was hyped through the involvement of the Army Chief of Staff (top ranking officer in the entire US Army), several very high-ranking Navy members, and the Washington Capitals. It quickly went from "casual pick up" to a relatively competitive, formal thing pretty quick as a result. We had refs, announcer, training staff, and even about 200-300 people in the stands to watch.

    I got back on the ice over the Thanksgiving weekend for the first time in probably 7 months (easily been 3-4 years since I played consistently) to get myself somewhat prepared for this game, but I still went into it nervous I might let the team down and embarrass the Army and Air Force. Thankfully, the game went well, my team was fast enough and fun...despite the Third Period Penalty Parade, we managed to win 5-3. While not my best game, I felt dialed in and played confidently, and made the saves I was supposed to make (and maybe some that I wasn't supposed to, based on how my team reacted afterward). I was thinking of Pete and this game the whole weekend and how I wanted to play for him, how I was going to use that as my focus. I thought about making myself stop, look around, and appreciate being there on that NHL ice and be in the moment. I might never be there again. And I did stop, look up, and enjoy the view.

    And if that's not enough, check out SFC Joe Bowser for being the most inspirational, badass skater out there. He chose have his leg amputated after it was badly damaged from an IED blast so that he could continue to play hockey.

    Well...to my great surprise the game not only did we win, but I ended up being named MVP and was given the game puck from the Chief of Staff. He also coined me (military tradition, kind of a big deal at that level), and said "I'll put you in net anytime!" He asked me back for next year. One of the best parts of all of this was that my Dad, an Army retiree and the most important person in my life, was there in the stands to see me play. He met the Chief of Staff. He also got a coin. I haven't seen Dad smile, laugh, and have that much fun in a very long time. Him being there with me means the whole world.

    I never in a million years thought any of this would happen. I couldn't script this any better if I tried. Or if I did, no one would believe it. Too coincidental, too much of a fairy tale. Why? All this happened six months to the DAY that we lost Pete. He spent his first couple of years in the Army before going to the AF. He also was a diehard Buffalo fan. Who did the Caps play that night? The Sabres.

    Thanks Pete. This was all for you, buddy. I think you were out there on that ice with me.




    News articles (with photos/video):
    https://www.stripes.com/sports/us/ar...-game-1.442908
    http://www.militarytimes.com/photos/...my-navy-hockey
    https://www.army.mil/article/179241/..._5_3_in_hockey
    http://www.dcmilitary.com/pentagram/...782a154e2.html


    Action shots:






    Last edited by Phantom; 12-08-2016, 08:25 AM.

  • #2
    Simply outstanding - great memories for you!

    Gotta at least flip the mask up for the group shot, though!

    Comment


    • Phantom
      Phantom commented
      Editing a comment
      LOL yep...but the 4-star was yelling at us to hurry up so I didn't bother with the mask...plus I wasn't sure how this was going to go so I was happy for a little anonymity at the time. Thanks!
      Last edited by Phantom; 12-08-2016, 06:35 PM.

  • #3
    This is amazing. Happy to hear you did well, especially in the memory of your friend, Pete. I'm sure he was standing behind you on that goal line covering your 6 like any brother would.

    How would one get into this game? I'm a Marine Corps Veteran, two combat tours in Iraq, I would LOVE to get into something like this!

    Comment


    • Phantom
      Phantom commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks man! If you're in the DC area shoot me a PM! I can't promise anything and I don't know how future games are going to be organized, but if I have your info I can shoot it to the folks who helped organize this one. There was a rumor after the game that there might be another at the Verizon Center in the spring. Either way, they definitely want to do this again next year as part of Rivalry Week.

      This one came about a bit funny....went out over the First Sergeant network around the NCR, all services, just calling for players for a pick up game. Sounded totally casual in the beginning, but things got more serious after the names were already in and it became apparent that the CSA was going to be pretty involved with it. You know how quickly things get out of control when top brass is around, and it's not even the generals' fault, it's the layers and layers and layers of execs and support staff that almost always blow things completely out of proportion!

      I suspect that 3-4 years from now the competitive natures will get the better of both sides and this game will be full of all college/Junior players. Not that this game was slow (everything from A/semi-pro/Junior/collegiate to B/C types), but I think it'll get more and more competitive and exclusive as it builds. I hope that's not the case, because I think it was fun having a pretty wide variety of ages and backgrounds out there. Kept it real. We had a ball.

  • #4
    More video:
    https://www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/498430

    Comment


    • #5
      Originally posted by Phantom View Post
      Thanks man! If you're in the DC area shoot me a PM! I can't promise anything and I don't know how future games are going to be organized, but if I have your info I can shoot it to the folks who helped organize this one. There was a rumor after the game that there might be another at the Verizon Center in the spring. Either way, they definitely want to do this again next year as part of Rivalry Week.

      This one came about a bit funny....went out over the First Sergeant network around the NCR, all services, just calling for players for a pick up game. Sounded totally casual in the beginning, but things got more serious after the names were already in and it became apparent that the CSA was going to be pretty involved with it. You know how quickly things get out of control when top brass is around, and it's not even the generals' fault, it's the layers and layers and layers of execs and support staff that almost always blow things completely out of proportion!

      I suspect that 3-4 years from now the competitive natures will get the better of both sides and this game will be full of all college/Junior players. Not that this game was slow (everything from A/semi-pro/Junior/collegiate to B/C types), but I think it'll get more and more competitive and exclusive as it builds. I hope that's not the case, because I think it was fun having a pretty wide variety of ages and backgrounds out there. Kept it real. We had a ball.
      I'm actually from Long Island, NY. About 40 minutes east of NYC. I would definitely make the drive down for something like this though. I played at MSG a few years ago in what was literally just a pickup game that benefited the Garden of Dreams Foundation. It was put together by some NYC marketing firm. It was great because I was one of only two goalies. This is something that seems so much more cool being it is a military thing.
      Last edited by SaveByRichter35; 12-08-2016, 07:29 PM.

      Comment


      • #6
        I just read the articles. I didn't know you were still an active duty AF Captain. You were mentioned quite a few times as well, way to go, ma'am!

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by SaveByRichter35 View Post
          I'm actually from Long Island, NY. About 40 minutes east of NYC. I would definitely make the drive down for something like this though. I played at MSG a few years ago in what was literally just a pickup game that benefited the Garden of Dreams Foundation. It was put together by some NYC marketing firm. It was great because I was one of only two goalies. This is something that seems so much more cool being it is a military thing.
          I have absolutely NO idea how the future games will be organized, but definitely shoot me your info and I'll pass it along to the folks that put this game together. They're probably keeping a list somewhere for next year, who knows! Also let me know what level (A, B, C) you play as they like to have an idea. Navy had two goalies this time, but people come and go from the DC area all the time so there's no way to predict their situation a year from now. It would absolutely be worth the drive down. The Caps were great hosts, we had free tickets to their game that night, got featured on TV during the 2nd period, and they hyped the Army/Navy game pretty well and actually got a lot of fans to stay afterward to watch. I couldn't really let myself look around at the beginning and take it all in because I was trying very hard to not suck! LOL. It was an experience and you'd definitely enjoy it.

          And thanks! I wasn't expecting any of that; I stopped down to the locker room (because the ladies had to change in a closet down the hall, of course...) to tell the boys thanks for a great game and the next thing I know there are media interviews. Crazy.

          Comment


          • #8
            Originally posted by Phantom View Post
            ...

            Thanks Pete. This was all for you, buddy. I think you were out there on that ice with me.


            Comment


            • Phantom
              Phantom commented
              Editing a comment
              ^ Amen brother! Thanks Bassai. He'd appreciate that.

          • #9
            Originally posted by Phantom View Post

            I have absolutely NO idea how the future games will be organized, but definitely shoot me your info and I'll pass it along to the folks that put this game together. They're probably keeping a list somewhere for next year, who knows! Also let me know what level (A, B, C) you play as they like to have an idea. Navy had two goalies this time, but people come and go from the DC area all the time so there's no way to predict their situation a year from now. It would absolutely be worth the drive down. The Caps were great hosts, we had free tickets to their game that night, got featured on TV during the 2nd period, and they hyped the Army/Navy game pretty well and actually got a lot of fans to stay afterward to watch. I couldn't really let myself look around at the beginning and take it all in because I was trying very hard to not suck! LOL. It was an experience and you'd definitely enjoy it.

            And thanks! I wasn't expecting any of that; I stopped down to the locker room (because the ladies had to change in a closet down the hall, of course...) to tell the boys thanks for a great game and the next thing I know there are media interviews. Crazy.
            Yea I understand how unpredictable next year can be, and every year following as well. Especially since it got so much press, you know eventually they will probably wanna make it even more competitive, like you said, with higher skill level players to make it more marketable. I did pm you my info, I would be very grateful if you could pass it along.

            Comment

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