Flashback 15 years and Chris Chaput was enjoying youth hockey with his teammates at Goffstown High School in southern New Hampshire.
Fast forward 10 years and Chaput reunited with some old teammates to play adult league hockey for Cross Insurance. The guys have been playing together now for five years in the Power Play Hockey League.
Chaput, at 32 years old, was the oldest of the group that competed in high school.
“I was kind of waiting for them to get back from college and we’re all looking for a men’s league to get together,” Chaput said.
When the guys are playing men’s league hockey they certainly from time to time relive their high school days.
“The stories never leave,” Chaput said. “The memories will never leave, they’re always there.”
When the players got back on the ice together after not playing alongside one another for a decade, it took a few weeks to get re-acclimated to everyone’s style on the ice.
There are about five guys who played together at Goffstown and some other players who also competed together at a different high school. Throw in a couple of other players — such as Tony Cabana — and the Cross Insurance team is complete.
Cabana recalls joining the Cross Insurance squad about 4 1/2 years ago after moving to New Hampshire from New York. He developed an instant repartee with his teammates.
“It’s all about being part of the team,” said Cabana, who also works at Cross Insurance. “Any time you get on the ice — hockey’s a massive brain dump — your mind goes blank. No matter what you’ve got going on in your life, your mind goes blank and you’re just playing hockey and you’re in the moment.”
Cross Insurance plays in the B League in the Power Play Hockey League. It’s the lowest out of three divisions in the league.
“It’s good competition and it’s a notch down from A,” Chaput said. “You’re enjoying yourself and not working too hard out there, but you’re still having fun. Still have to work the next day, unfortunately.”
The team perennially finishes in the top two or three every season. Last spring, Cross Insurance captured its first league title.
The guys don’t get too serious out on the ice, but they certainly want to win every game.
“But it’s not to a point where we’re going to go out there and throw body checks or start getting crazy,” Chaput said. “We’re not going to be upset after the game because we lost. Next week’s a new game and you’ve still got tomorrow.”
Most of the players on the team come back every season and play for their favorite group. Cabana loves getting a chance to continue to get on the ice with the same guys.
“We’re a pretty tight-knit group,” Cabana said. “We hang out afterwards and we hang out during the week. I know a lot of the guys, they’re going to [Boston] Bruins games together, they’re hanging out watching the game or they’re going to a bar and hanging out. It’s a different level of friendship.”
Said Chaput: “We’ll golf together, we’ll get together for Bruins games. As cliché as it is, it’s like a family. It’s guys that you can turn to with whatever you need really.”
The team members range in age from early 20s to 42. Cabana is the oldest player and his teammates like to remind him of that, calling him “Dad.” Having played Division I college hockey at Sacred Heart University and experiencing life a little longer than his counterparts, Cabana is happy to help out the younger guys.
“Hey, if I can make somebody not make the same mistakes that I made, I think that’s a pretty cool thing,” Cabana said.
“I think mentally I’m 18. I’d like to think I can relate to them. But at the very least I’m a little bit older and I can give them perspective on some different things, whether that’s talking about engagement rings or whatnot.”
Besides playing in the league year-round, the guys on Cross Insurance enjoy entering tournaments and charity events. A few years ago, the team competed in a tournament in Lake Placid, New York.
“Growing up, I was never able to do the Lake Placid tournament as a kid, so to get out there now through knowledge of knowing what Lake Placid is with USA Hockey is pretty cool,” Chaput said. “We were able to skate on the 1980 rink. One of the games we got to dress in the locker room that the team did. The cool stuff like that.”
The guys have made it a tradition to compete in the Hockey Fights MS tournament every year. The event is close to Chaput’s heart since his mom came down with multiple sclerosis when he was little.
“It’s a great cause, but it’s also something we love as well,” Chaput said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re giving back, but you are.”
Cross Insurance has also participated in the annual Chatter Cup for autism awareness. The last three years, the team has faced the Boston Bruins alumni team a number of times to raise money for the Richie McFarland Children’s Center. The last time they took on the Bruins, legend Ray Bourque hit the ice.
“It’s an absolutely amazing experience,” Cabana said. “It’s extremely humbling.
“Any time you can give back to the community, that’s what it’s all about.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): Adult Hockey