The 6 Stages of Senior League Hockey

13
23462
senior league hockey
gerhard crous on Unsplash

Observations on senior league hockey from an aging defenseman

By Bill Wagner

This article originally appears on Beer League Inc. Check out their kick-ass podcast! They are on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.

Stage 1

Generally, a guy fresh out of juniors, college or even the minors. Still has that higher-level ability that all teams seek to win league championships. You’ll hear things like “that guy is sick”; “great hands”; “bullet shot”; or “young legs.” Doesn’t have a pot to piss in so don’t expect any financial contribution from this guy. In fact, you’ll be lucky to ever see him bring beer—or a towel to shower with for that matter. No one cares, especially the Stage 5 senior league hockey guys (see below).

Stage 2

That mid- to late-20s guy. Been around the league for a few years and is starting to learn how to play the “senior league” game (actually passing and not trying to do it yourself). Still has those “fresh legs” and may actually have a job now, which is nice. Trouble is brewing here because they either just have or will be thinking about getting married (see Stage 3). May not always want to, but has the ability to pay his league fee. Can be counted on to bring beer occasionally as well. These are good times.

Stage 3

Usually in his early to mid-30s. Still has a lot of ability but is cracking under the strain of life. Kids are young and demanding, wife is pissed that you are gone too much as it is, and you realize you have to get up for work in the morning. Going home with a black eye or fat lip again just doesn’t go over well at that big presentation you have tomorrow. This guy will commit to the team, pay the fee, and then become generally unreliable. Sometimes you’ll hear “who’s the new guy?” when he walks into the locker room after a few absences.

Stage 4

Uh oh, what happened to my “silky mitts,” my “fresh legs”? Why can I know what to do but my body cannot do it anymore? These are hard times for most senior league hockey players. You are in your late 30s or early 40s and the crushing impact of life and aging have finally taken its toll. You’re probably heavily involved in coaching your kids so those 10pm or later game times are killers. You tend to do a lot of apologizing—“Sorry about that goal, guys; my fault”; “Sorry, that was my guy in the slot”; “Sorry, I shouldn’t have pinched again that late in the game.” You know all the regular beer league excuses.

Classic Hockey Rock music playlist

Stage 5

This is the mid- to late-40s guy. His abilities are fading fast and he knows it. Has money and may even sponsor the team because that is really the only way they still let you play. He’ll bring beer, food; buy jerseys—whatever it takes to hang on to that last fleeting moment of glory playing with the better guys. Used to be the go-to guy for the power play or the “last minute of the game” guy, but now volunteers to sit so the Stage 1 and 2 guys can get out there and win it. Has become a clutch-and-grab artist and a hack because that is the only way to stop those young kids. This is a particularly bad stage if you are a goaltender. The minute you walk out of the locker room, you know the whole team is scheming of ways to get a new, younger guy in net.

Stage 6

An end and a beginning at the same time. This is the point where it’s finally time to move to the “old guy” division and say goodbye to the “open” division forever. Kids are grown; wife no longer cares if you are home or not. Probably playing on 3 or 4 teams just to get out of the house. Sits and drinks beer with the fellas telling old stories until the wee hours of the morning, because he either doesn’t care what his boss thinks or is the boss. These are good times and your new home until you decide to hang them up completely.

Final Thoughts

Anyone who plays or has played the game can fully understand and appreciate these stages. No matter how good you are or where you played, “All roads lead to senior league hockey” and that is OK. Hockey is an amazing sport and there is a league and level for everyone, regardless of age or ability.

I hope you all enjoy the game as much as I have because it has brought many moments of joy to my life. I can tell you that winning that “35 and Over” championship feels just as good as that big tournament when you were 9 or anything in between. I salute all of my fellow warriors out there, young and old. Keep playing for the love of the game and the lifelong friendships you will build along the way.

If you want to continue to talk a walk down memory lane, do you remember these?

Like CrossIceHockey.com? Spread the word!

13 COMMENTS

  1. Just found your site. I played pond hockey growing up and never had the benefit of organized hockey since there was none back in the 60’s. That was in southern NY and when I moved to MD after college, never played again…until, a new rink opened near me and I started playing again at age 45. Played in some beer leagues, never higher than B level, mostly C. Eventually cut back to just a regular pick up group on Saturday nights even after moving to the York, PA area until a few guys got “stupid” and I looked for something else.
    I found a great group at the York City Ice Arena (Old Timers Hockey Club) and have been playing with them for the last 5 years and will continue as long as I can. By the way, I will turn 71 this June. Love hockey and have even turned my wife into a huge Caps fan. She loves Ovi and calls me her second favorite player.

  2. I would take what you written with a grain of salt. Everyone is different. I’m 57 and still play a strong game, the only difference is my shifts are shorter. I play pickup in 5 groups with guys in their 20s right up to guys in their 60s, and there are a few guys in their 60s who can still make good players in their 20s look foolish. There are no hard and fast rules about aging for guys who never let go.

    • Gary, no doubt there are standout players. But in general the aging process inevitably takes its toll on most hockey players, whether recreational or professional. In any case, this article was not intended to be a definitive guide; it is merely for entertainment purposes.

  3. I’m 66 and have played with a group of guys since 2003 when I was 50. Never played organized hockey as a kid (there was none). Coached all 3 of my kids. Nothing is better than playing with (and against) your adult children in men’s league. May every player be so fortunate as I.

    • Agree. I did all of the above (except that in Montreal, where I come from, there was hockey everywhere). I just never took it up till later in life.

  4. I am a Stage 6 goalie. I missed last year because of a Stage 2 guy crashing the net when there was no one around him. My first game back was great: the ice, the insults and the beer. Your team is your family. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I got back.

  5. Stage 6. Still playing and paying the price. After game night I walk the steps one at a time down the stairs for my morning coffee. Knees are done but still can’t wait to hit the ice. Invest in Voltaren stocks if u want to make money off of me.

    • I feel your pain. After a game, when I roll up my driveway I can barely make it out of the car—no matter how much water I drink during the game. Nevertheless, I can’t wait for the next one!

  6. I’m sure I’m a stage 6 having played for 45 years. I’m a sixty something goalie that has gotten the opportunity to play with my kids in senior hockey. They’re only in stage 2 and 3 but I’m enjoying it never the less. I love the game and need it twice a week to keep my sanity. When to quit? No idea… I’ll let my body determine that.

  7. My over 50 league team won last night to go to 13-0 behind the strong goaltending of Neil H. Win or Lose both teams have a great time.

  8. I play in a non-competitive, old man’s league every Friday night. It is the highlight of my entire week. We don’t check, we barely keep score, and the testosterone and idiot competitiveness is gone for most of us. That makes the game a pure joy. We play purely for the pleasure of playing hockey and stepping out onto that clean sheet of ice.

Got something to say? Tell us what you think!

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.