Behind The Morning Skate: Keds Path to Beer League Excellence

So to be completely honest, I am writing this because I feel like our followers should probably know who is coming up with the content. I don’t claim to be a hockey expert but I can guarantee my passion for this game is like no other. To prove that to you, I want to fill you in on my mediocre, often forgettable, at times incredible, hockey career.

 

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Here I am at age 5. Yup, a goalie. Why? Because I couldn’t cross over to my left and had zero chance of mastering any sort of backwards skating – still don’t :). I played in a league where you had maybe 4 practices all year and 9 games, all outside if the weather was cold enough. To put it in perspective, the fans that attended these games came straight from the downtown bar after a NASCAR race. These people – absolute nail guns and arguably the hardest working, nicest people you’ll ever meet in your life. I’d like to say this is where I obtained my grit. If you had a bad game, the ride home was windows up, cigarettes lit, no talking and Foghats Slow Ride serenading in the background.

 

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After a windy fall in which the boards at the rink literally blew away, I signed up in a league where you played in an actual rink. To some people, this may be standard, but for me it was like the NHL. Bantam B’s were probably my peak where I was second in the team in points, that is, until our coach got canned (pun intended) for boozing in the parking lot before the game. This is where I obtained my leadership qualities. Yeah maybe a guy crushing bud lights in the parking lot seconds before puck drop isn’t the ideal leader for a group of 12(?) year olds, but we went to war for him. Also, check out this hair cut ^. Safe to say I didn’t receive my first hand job until well after my middle school years.

 

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Varsity. Next stop was varsity. Our high school won NYSPHSAA state championship back in 2000 and I was there to see those guys play. They were my heroes and I was going to do everything I possibly could to keep tradition going. Fast forward to senior year and we go 3-14.  What do you expect when your captain is playing Phish in warm-ups and your leading goal scorer is a band geek playing air guitar of whatever stupid guitar hero song was popular at the time. You know who got some 2nd unit PP time? You know who was tied in the state in goals after 1 game? I’m currently raising my hand. That’s right, Ked was a goal scorer. That’s where I became opportunistic. Granted, I only finished with 3 goals total, but I was still flying high. Could’ve had a great year if it wasn’t for my co-host Hal unplugging my line mate’s alarm the night before a game resulting in a benching and irreversible damage to our line’s chemistry- never recovered. I still blame Hal for my mess of a high school hockey career. Low key, the picture above is about the only visual proof there is that I even made a 3-14 high school hockey team. Highs and lows, peaks and valleys – a few things coaches say and boy was I in a valley for a very long fucking time (literally, after high school I shipped off to Hudson Valley Community College).

 

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You know what you do when you can’t afford/make a junior team but still want to play hockey? You go JUCO and let me tell you, that’s where you see some shit. Only place in the world where Junior C superstars go to skip class and pretend to go to the show only to flunk out and cry on one knee with a twisted tea in one hand and a cigarette in the other. We had an all DUI line that was supposed to be some kind of accomplishment (low key was kind of jealous because they piped) and a goalie whose girlfriend was getting cucked by anyone who put on skates. My first goal? I wasn’t even paying attention and a shot from the point hit my right ass cheek and went 5-hole. Celly? Did I ever. One knee, swiping ice and jumping glass. I was going to leave out the part that the goal made the score 12-3 but I can’t rob you of the visual experience you deserve. This picture ^ was used in our program. While most people put existing awards, accomplishments, etc. all I could put down is in high school I led the league in blocked shots and received a team award (the award to the asshole who loves the game the most but would make Marc Staal look like Wayne freakin Gretzky).

Real quick- if my kid ever receives a team award he is quitting that day. Clearly he’s not good enough and maybe it’s time for modified football. Who am I kidding? If my kid gets a team award it’s not likely he’ll a hard hitting linebacker. I guess he’ll have to settle for smokers corner and be a modern day John Bender, something I would be proud of.

Anyway, back to the JUCO grind. While most of the kids failed out, your boy went to class,played the system, and went “D3” if you were a cute girl or in real life, to club hockey, otherwise known as the ACHA.

 

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I went to Cortland where I played 4 games before blowing out my knee and subsequently flunked out of school. Can you imagine? Having a catastrophic injury playing CLUB HOCKEY?!? Well I did and I recovered. This was during my earrings stage, which honestly didn’t fit my hardo persona (yes it did), but I thought the ladies loved it (by now I had graduated to intercourse) so I ran with it. After a year the earrings were gone and I was out of Cortland and onto Siena. Adversity? My middle name.

 

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I was such a good hockey player that my first game at Siena, I was a backup goalie. Yeah, I’m that good. I was out with a separated shoulder and the team needed someone. Told you – I am a team guy. Here I prided myself on becoming a PK machine and hype guy. AKA I did what I did everywhere else. When you’re this mediocre at hockey you need to say things repeatedly to not hate yourself;

“The PK is really important.”

“I wonder if Danielle saw me block the shit out of that shot.”

“I’m going to face wash this asshole for no reason after the whistle so people think I’m tough.”

Siena was a good time. The highlight was beating Marist in the 87-cup (the best embarrassing accomplishment of all time).

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Oh, I also wore the number 38 – a goal scorer’s number, ask Shane Harper and Pavel Demitra (RIP Ts and Ps). Lastly, I grew out the hair to Kevin Klein Man-Bun status. A few girls even let me have sex with them because I “look(ed) like Mats Zuccarello”. In what fucking world sweetheart? Although to be honest, I use that line to this day.

 

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Remember when I said I peaked? I forgot about beer league hockey. This is where I flourish. What did I accomplish? How about a 104 point season. How about putting together arguably the toughest, craziest beer league team in history? Our team actually got banned from a local rink for drinking jungle juice on the bench and essentially starting a riot (shout out to dubbz for skating to center ice and pretending to shit his pants). How about a life time 5-2 adult hockey tournament record? You see, throughout my actual hockey career I learned a bunch of things. My first hockey league, featuring a cast from the first season of teen mom, taught me to be tough. My first real coach taught me if you aren’t drinking with the boys, you’re not having fun. Varsity taught me… well nothing really, our coach was blind in one eye and we had one of the worst seasons in school history (I did get a letterman jacket, with a red collar which was some OG shit so I guess varsity taught me pride). JUCO taught me to be an asshole, but to pick and choose my spots. Lastly, ACHA taught me that just when you think you’ve seen it all, something even crazier is right around the corner. It also taught me to put the team ahead of yourself, unless you’re on a PP in beer league because I’m not getting off of the ice (have a 104 point season and then talk to me).

 

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So I just reread all that I wrote and to be honest, that kid sounds like the fucking man. Takes no shit, scared of nobody and loves the best sport in the world. If you take out the fact that he can’t skate backwards, was a 4th liner his whole life (even has a fourth line for life tattoo (which he now regrets))

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and has an excel sheet of all of his beer league stats, then that kid is not a total failure…right? Realistically, I like to think that I fall somewhere between a legend and a loser. Did I make it to the show? Not even close. Did I put on a show everywhere I played? You bet your ass I did.

 

@jimmy_collins_

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