One does not often see players sporting Mighty Ducks, Rangers and Hurricanes jerseys taking the ice alongside Yale Bulldogs, but this is a common occurrence at the Lunch-Time Old Men’s hockey game.
Several Yale professors and alumni play a pick up game of hockey with Conn. locals twice a week at Ingalls Rink. Paul Farren ’66 began this tradition 30 years ago, though most of the current players have been hitting the ice only for the past several years. Farren is a former president of the Yale Men’s Ice Hockey Association.
At games, the variety of jerseys — which run the gamut from Patrick Leary’s Irish Pub to the Connecticut Clippers — showcases the myriad professions of the professors, liquor store owners and chefs who all lace up their skates.
The regular faculty players include environmental studies professor Daniel Esty, and physics professor Colin Gay.
“I do it because I’ve been playing hockey since I was 4 years old and have always loved the game,” Esty said. “Moreover, I find that an hour on the ice is far better exercise than jogging or riding an exercise bicycle or elliptical trainer.”
John Sather ’92, recipient of the Malcolm G. Chace award for hockey sportsmanship in 1992, and Joe Gagliardi ’82, both former Yale varsity hockey players and now local lawyers, play as well. But talent is not limited to Yalies.
Casey Russell, who plays Division I hockey at Bentley College in Waltham, MA, also plays Lunch-Time games with his father, Jeff Russell, a Conn. landscaper. Casey Russell was selected to play for the Israeli National Team in June 2005.
While some of the players said that they play to “pick up chicks,” the average number of fans is two. And although the lack of spectators does not take away from the intensity of the game, the competition does not lead to reliance on performance-enhancing drugs. The players admit that the drug most commonly used is Bengay.
Without disputes on legal play, the players are left to argue over the score. This past Tuesday’s game had several outcomes: 14-7, 21-15 and 34-1, depending on who you ask. There is no referee to mediate the games, and the players operate under the tacit agreement that there is “honor amongst thieves,” Dan, a Stamford chef, said.
Most of the people who play are those who have more control over their work schedules, such as firemen, lawyers, judges and police officers, but there is another group of players who have flexible schedules as well.
“A lot of them are either just coming out of jail, or just going into jail,” said physics professor and hockey player Sean Barrett.
Though Barrett has not played yet this year due to work on a research paper, he said he looks forward to returning to the Lunch-Time game because of the talent of the other players, which exceeds that of other hockey groups with which he has played.
For many players, the Lunch-Time Old Men’s game is just one of many outlets for hockey. Most play similar night games, while some players will travel to tournaments. Yet playing with each other instills a sense of solidarity, they said.
This unity carries over off the ice as well between the Yalies and local residents because players may patronize the same clubs or have children who attend the same schools, or even work together.
“There is a great deal of camaraderie among the guys who play,” Esty said.