by Bob Poliquin, Managing Editor ~
According to one over-simplistic source, hockey is a sport where two teams playing against each other maneuver a puck into the opponent’s goal using a hockey stick. A halfback, on the other hand, is a person originally from the northeastern U.S. who retired to Florida only to move “halfway back.”
My family origins are from the northeast. In fact, I was born in Berlin, NH. The first thing you see as you drive into Berlin is a banner that reads “Hockey Town, USA.” As a kid, I was always proud of being born in Hockey Town, USA, until I found out the moniker is self-awarded. Hockey, nevertheless, is important up there – Bobby Orr and Boston Bruins important.
We all played hockey. For those of us who grew up skating on farm ponds and outdoor rinks, from corporate-sponsored childhood peewees to the corporate-sponsored adult “industrial leagues,” hockey is woven into the fabric of life. As a bantam in central Maine, I played for Fortin’s Funeral Home. And Charlotte, the Queen City, bless her heart, has a hockey team – the Charlotte Checkers.
The Charlotte Checkers are a minor-league professional team of the Carolina Hurricanes. Of the twenty-four players on the current roster, five are from the US. By far, most of them are from Canada – French-speaking Canada to be precise. Finland is also well represented.
The Checkers play at the Bojangles Coliseum southeast of Uptown with tickets running from $18.50 for the cheap seats to $32.50 for the best seats, which are bargain prices to see international hockey at this level. Most games are at 7:00 PM on weekdays with a few weekend games at 1:00 or 3:00 PM. Check the schedule for times and plan on dinner and a game with friends or grandchildren. Once you have been to a live hockey game, it’s easy to become a fan.
A caveat – I have never lived in Florida; however, our 55+ community is replete with halfbacks, many of whom grew up cheering for the Penguins, Rangers, or Flyers. One of my community friends is from Minnesota. He will proudly and correctly inform you that the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota at Duluth have numerous Division 1 national championships and develop some fine hockey players.
If you need more convincing to attend a Checkers game, just listen to Stompin’ Tom Conners sing The Good Old Hockey Game.
Photo courtesy of Braden Barwich.