Now that the Big Dogs adult hockey team has been around for nearly two decades, a second generation of players is starting to become a core of seasoned veterans.
However, some old-timers are still lacing up their skates every week for the team that plays at the storied Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
There are about five original members remaining on the Big Dogs, which pushes the age range of the team from about 21 to 65. There is one father-son duo on the Big Dogs, and it wasn’t long ago the team featured a 70-year-old player.
“They make it fun,” said team member David Krinn, who is 28. “We’ll always have guys to play, but it’s nice having them there.”
“We try to space their shifts so they’re not on the ice at the same time,” said Dustin Czajkowski, 27, who has been on the team for seven years.
It’s important for the Big Dogs players to keep the tradition of the team alive and pass it down from generation to generation.
“Because I hope that when I’m that old they are going to still let me play,” Czajkowski said.
Having some older guys on the team also provides the group a nice balance.
“They’re competitive,” Czajkowski said. “They try their hardest and they give it everything they’ve got.”
The bad thing about having the older guys on the team?
“The young guys have to bring the beer every game,” joked Krinn.
The older players and the younger guys have built some strong camaraderie playing on the ice together over the years. The elder statesman on the ice knows his role on the team.
“He knows if it’s a close game he should sit down, but otherwise he’s out there,” said Krinn, who has been on the Big Dogs for six years. “I think he’s got a couple goals this year.”
Along with a few ice veterans, the Big Dogs usually pull three to four University of Marquette club hockey players on their team each year.
“They hold the team together with speed,” Krinn said.
But bringing aboard a couple ringers each year hasn’t translated into any significant advantage. The Big Dogs haven’t won any titles in the 16-team C League in recent years.
In 2016, the Big Dogs won just two games. There are more important things than chalking up a “W” for the guys.
“We still have just as much fun drinking beer,” Krinn joked.
Playing in the league at the Pettit Center is competitive and a perfect fit for the Big Dogs.
“It seems to be fun,” Krinn said. “Every now and then you get one of those hotshots that think it’s the NHL, but for the most party everyone’s pretty nice.”
Said Czajkowski: “It gets a little chippy, but for the most part we enjoy it.”
For the past five years, two or three of the players — including Krinn and Czajkowski — have made it up to Eagle River, Wisconsin, to play in the Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey National Championships. It’s a nice four-hour drive to play hockey for a few days in the picturesque northwoods.
“It’s fun, and we get to play with other guys we only get to see once a year,” Czajkowski said. “So it’s really nice to get to play with some new guys.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc
Tag(s): Adult Hockey