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The Charlotte Rebels Aren’t Afraid to Have a Little Fun

By Greg Bates - Special to USAHockey.org, 10/22/14, 3:30PM MDT

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Postgame Festivities Build Camaraderie and Communication

It doesn’t take much to entertain the guys on the Charlotte Rebels team.

They like to have a good time while competing in the adult hockey league at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, N.C. The guys don’t take themselves too seriously.

“We have no problem cracking jokes at each other and cracking jokes at ourselves. It’s just so light hearted,” team member Scott Barrow said. “I don’t think there’s anyone who’s so intense out on the ice that it gets uncomfortable.”

The Rebels are keeping it loose with a twist. In the fall season, the Rebels implemented a new award — the “Johnny One-Timer” — that’s handed out on a weekly basis after league games.

“We give this award to the player who makes the most asinine play of the game,” Barrow said. “It doesn’t matter if they scored eight goals in that game or whatever. Every player has to vote on one person in the locker room immediate after the game.”

When the final two candidates are determined, each player makes a closing argument why he doesn’t deserve the award. After a team vote, the “winner” is announced.

“The rest of that night that player has to carry that hockey stick around wherever they go in the bar,” Barrow said. “Everyone knows what this stick is about. We post photos of it on Twitter, our Facebook. It just kind of shows why we’re there: We’re there to have a good time and goof around.”

Each award winner signs the stick, which is painted purple on the shaft and the blue tape is used on the grip and blade.

Blake Valiquette, who is an Ottawa, Ontario native, played on a team in Durham, N.C., that handed out the same award. He’s hoping it becomes a tradition for the Rebels.

“Not everybody has a sense of humor when it comes to telling them how awful they played during a game, but these guys kind of get it,” Valiquette said.

The Rebels are a tight-knit group. The team formed three years ago when the players were competing on different teams in the league. Friendships developed over the years and the guys left their teams to start the Rebels. The core group of players has played together for the last six to seven years, Barrow noted.

“We’ve had very few changes in our roster because we get along so well as a group,” Barrow said.

The roughly 15 guys on the Rebels’ roster range in age from the low 30s to mid-50s. The hockey experience on the team is all over the board. Some guys know the game well, while others are relatively new, said Valiquette, who is one of the younger Rebels players at 35.

The Rebels play in the 12-team C League at the Extreme Ice Center. It’s a competitive league filled with guys who like to get out on the ice.

“I think we go out there every week knowing we’re going to have pretty good competition,” Barrow said. “You get some guys who are not quite as good on other teams or on our team and we’re just excited to have them out there.”

It’s not all about winning for the Rebels.

“We enjoying win, but for every hour we’re on the ice we’re hanging out for two hours afterwards,” Barrow said.

Playing in league Sunday nights is all about breaking away from the daily routine for Barrow. Valiquette, who is a stay-at-home dad caring for his 19-month-old daughter, uses league night as a day to get out and “be a guy.”

“I really play to get away, but also the camaraderie of the team,” said the 44-year-old Barrow, who has played hockey for 17 years. “The group of guys that I play with are probably my closest friends in Charlotte. I’ve lived here for 12 years now, and the first thing I did when I got here I joined the hockey league.”

Barrow really likes his team’s camaraderie and communication on the ice.

“We’ve know each other for years, so we didn’t have any issues with communicating or knowing where to go, telling each other to cover the net or go get the puck,” Barrow said. “Overall, I think our chemistry on the ice is probably better than most of the teams we play. We hang out a lot after the game.”

The postgame festivities are what allow the Rebels players to have fun.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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