Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lord Stanley's Cup Finally Finds Stalag California

I discovered ice hockey only after I moved from the Great White North to the Stalag. Sure, others were swinging hockey sticks all around me as I grew up in frigid North Dakota, but I was way too interested in cars and driving to pay much attention.

I was in my late twenties, bringing up a strapping young son by myself, when I began casting about for something that would interest us both, that we could do together. In the "winter" of 1969, I took him to a Los Angeles Kings hockey game and we were both hooked.

There was a public ice rink, Klondike, not far from our apartment in Santa Ana, and I decided that we should learn to skate. I had skated a little as a kid, but not much. Still, it didn't take either of us very long, and we were scooting around the ice like the best of the rinkrats. We went skating two or three times a week for several years, as he grew up. We also attended the occasional LA Kings game, when time and money permitted.

When I relocated us to San Diego, after the couple of years it took me to rebuild my career there, Jim drifted more into friends and his own interests, and I had time on my hands. Hanging around an ice rink in El Cajon, I fell in with a group of guys in their thirties and forties, some of whom were very good hockey players. I bought a set of hockey gear and flopped about on the ice while learning to play the game. I played with that same group of guys for about fifteen years. I was able, during this time, to begin to learn the game as a player.

During this time, I followed professional hockey as best I could. I met and made friends with Willie O'Ree, the first black player to play in the NHL. One day, Goldie Goldthorpe, a minor league player who was the inspiration for Ogie Oglethorpe, an outrageous hockey goon in the movie Slap Shot, guested with our team. Also, on several occasions, brothers Chris and Steve Chelios guested with us.

Since I've moved back up to Orange County, and now, El Pueblo de Los Angeles, I haven't returned to playing. Not only am I a mite old, but I have become horribly out of shape. I still skate occasionally at a rink in Van Nuys, but I'd have to work a lot harder than I do to be able to play again--even with guys my own age......

Meanwhile, I had season tix for the Kings during three seasons while Wayne Gretzky played here, and Anaheim Ducks tix for one season (their second). I've followed these teams records for all these many years, in the hopes one of them would win the Stanley Cup. Of course, I've been a Kings fan a lot longer that the Ducks have been in existence, so I had hoped it'd be the Kings who won the Cup first. They, unfortunately, failed to cooperate.

So, the Stanley Cup resides in the Honda Ponda in Anaheim.

Go! Ducks! Go!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


Aurora said...

Col. Hogan, just checked your profile. You're still a whipper-snapper in this day and age. I've heard of 72 year olds getting back a better fitness level than in their 30's. Go for it! If ever I get back over to the States, which is certainly on the cards, I'll have to come and watch you play. You've got a bit of time to get your speed back up before then! LOL

Col. Hogan said...

Aurora, Nice of you to say so. You've convinced me to take a turn by the ice rink Monday on the way home from work.

Meanwhile, check out a previous entry on the subject, at the following link:

I'm the guy on the left, with the white jersey. A mite younger, and in a mite better shape......

Aurora said...

You go, Col.! You look like a serious contender there. Let us know how it goes. Is that your son in the pic with you?

Col. Hogan said...

No, my son tried hockey as a boy, but decided he prefers just recreational skating. Those guys are members of the team, taken right after a game.

Aurora said...

So have you been down there to brush up your skills yet, Col.? ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks pop! happy father's day.

Anonymous said...