Winning isn’t everything for the guys on the Moose adult hockey team.
But winning has become almost second nature. The squad is in its 10th year and has captured nine championships in the A League of the Northland Hockey League in Kansas City, Missouri. The league runs two sessions — fall/winter and summer — each year, so the team has won about half the titles during that stretch.
The Moose players sometimes hear guys from other A League teams voice their frustration about the Moose winning too many championships, but there’s not a lot the team can do.
“In Kansas City, it’s the highest you can go,” said Moose team captain Anthony Gialde, who helped found the team. “We’ve kind of run roughshod over everybody, and it’s not because we’re a bunch of NHL guys. That’s just the way it is here.”
The Moose players have the utmost respect for their opponents, so they are never intentionally trying to humiliate them on the ice. It’s just the opposite.
“Honestly, you want to win every week, but you don’t want to shred people,” Gialde said. “You want to have a tight game. It makes for some hard feelings, but we try to be really workmanlike about it.”
The Moose had an amazing stretch a couple years ago, claiming titles in summer 2015, fall 2015-16 and summer 2016. The group even ran off 24 straight victories in 2015.
“In recent memory, nobody had ever heard of a team winning that many games in a row,” Gialde said. “So, we’re unofficially claiming that as a record.”
The guys on the Moose like to win, but it’s certainly not their primary objective. The players are all about getting out on Sunday nights for a skate and having an enjoyable time.
“Honestly, we love to play,” Gialde said. “We love to play with each other and get together because we’re friends outside of the rink. When we go up there and play hockey, we hang out for hours afterwards just because we want to be with each other. We really enjoy each other’s company. A couple of the guys’ wives were like, ‘What are you doing getting home five hours after your game?’ And they’re like, ‘We’ve been in the parking lot and hanging out or whatever.’”
Whether they’re winning or losing, the guys are having fun because they’re together.
“No one yells at each other and there’s no frustration value with it,” Moose assistant coach Ed Schumann said. “Hockey is what gets us there, but we’re all there to hang out and do something we like to do that we’ve all grown up with.”
About half of the Moose squad is comprised of original team members from 2008. The other half were added to the team a few years later. However, nearly all the skaters have multiple seasons of service with the Moose. There’s virtually zero turnover every year.
“Everybody loves it so much they don’t leave,” Gialde said.
Most of the players on the Moose are work transplants from other states, primarily in the Midwest.
“We all met through the rink and through the league and now we take trips together, do float trips together, we’ve gone to see some NHL games over in St. Louis, which is the shortest drive for an NHL game from here,” said Gialde, who grew up in the Kansas City area.
“It’s crazy how well our team gets along,” said Schumann, who hails from South Dakota. “And the fact that people come from all different walks of life. Hockey in common is what we share. We all truly get along and we’re all friends, which is kind of the crazy thing.”
Playing together for so long, the guys have certainly reaped the benefits by winning all the titles.
“When you know what side a guy shoots on or how fast he is, what he’s really good at, that really helps,” Gialde said. “But knowing them off the ice also makes for quick forgiveness when you really make a bad mistake on the ice. If I really screw something up or miss a play or don’t get back on D, what the case is, nobody’s upset because we’re such good friends off the ice.”
The average age on the team is low to mid-30s, with Gialde being the second-oldest at 46. Fellow team founder Schumann, 39, is the third-most experienced player.
“Most of us are dads,” Gialde said. “We do have a couple younger guys on the team, but most of us are older.”
Competing in league games is a release for Gialde, especially after a long, hard work week. He really enjoys making sure the team runs smoothly, and he’s always at ease because of the guys he’s been associated with for a decade.
“I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of guys,” Gialde said. “I never have to bug them about money, I never had to worry if people are showing up. It’s just so unusual.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.