February 7th, 2011 | Uncategorized

MAGAZINE | Once a hockey player, always a hockey player

Mickey Kappele ’86 says that only his own stupidity still convinces him to strap on his goalie pads.

But there he was between the pipes for Team White Saturday morning for the annual alumni hockey game, playing a goalie style called standup usually only seen on grainy old video footage. The Team White goalie got in the way of enough pucks to earn co-MVP honors for the game. He attributed his continued flexibility to yoga, joking, “Old goalies never die, they just get looser.”

Two of the oldest alumni on the ice, Bill Hildebrand ’63 and Steven Gunther ’63 not only played together throughout their years at Yale but were also roommates as undergraduates. Gunther’s wife explained that her husband even still plays hockey in their home in D.C. for a team called the Gerihatricks.

The game has changed in many ways since Hildebrand and Gunther played for Yale. Hildebrand explained, “The biggest difference [between when I played and now] is that in my era, everybody played three sports. I played football, hockey, and baseball. These kids play hockey 12 months a year. So that concentration gives them that much more time to just develop their talents.”

But what has not changed is what defines a good player. Hildebrand continued, “Want to see if a guy’s a hockey player, put him along side somebody else, put the puck in the corner, and whoever comes out with the puck is a hockey player. It’s commitment. That has not changed; it will never change.”

The alumni game may not have featured many battles in the corners or big hits, but the returning players expressed their respect for the current generation of Elis that has battled their way to national attention. For a deeper look at the current hockey team’s rise to dominance, look for our feature in the March issue of the Yale Daily News Magazine.