Lawmakers Defeat Warriors 6-3 in Charity Hockey Game

Craig Brownstein of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks.

Just before hitting the ice, Joe Bowser of the Warrior team was asked what their strategy was to beat the Congressional squad, “Just show up,” he joked. He later added, “And we promise to pay our taxes on time.”

Mike Quigley

Rep. Quigley of the Congressional Team waits for another shift. (Photo credit: Craig Brownstein)

The big man for the Warriors talked a big game, but at the end of the night, the Lawmakers came out on top, 6-3. Taking an early lead in the first period, the Hill team held off the Warriors, a squad comprised of active duty members, reservists and vets, many of them skating with artificial limbs. “We’ll put our best foot forward,” Bowser said before the game, aware of the obvious pun.

The rain didn’t do much to dampen attendance at Kettler last night and the stands held a raucous crowd, primarily Warriors boosters. But it was the Obama address to the Joint Session of Congress that kept a number of elected officials away. But as per usual in this town, the hard work (and scoring) was done by the staff. Rep. Mike Quigley was the sole elected official to play last night. We thanked him for the time he gave us earlier this week when we previewed the game. Just before taking the ice, and maybe a bit torqued on how we characterized him, Quigley looked at us and said, “Pugnacious?” Mustering every bit of confidence that 15 years at C-SPAN will give a guy, we looked him square in the eye and replied, “What – did we spell it wrong?”

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USA Warriors: “Hockey Was a Life-saver For Me”

Wounded warrior

Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Drew Hill doesn’t sound like a guy whose life needed saving. He’s confident and friendly, with that ingrained Army habit of calling you “Sir,” and he loves talking about hockey. “Chippy,” it turns out, is one of his favorite descriptions for just about everything.

The Warriors pose for a photo after a recent game.

We spoke recently just as he stepped off the ice after practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. He was tired — “Sorry about being winded, Sir,” he said — but eager to talk about his team of military pals who don skates as often as they can. Whether they have all their limbs or not. After all, they have a big game coming up.

Hill is a member of USA Warriors Ice Hockey, a project of USA Hockey and the NHL, that gets wounded American combat veterans out on the ice, playing hockey, no matter if they’ve ever played before or not.

Hill was one of those who had. “I played off and on through high school and up from there,” he told me. “But when I got into the Army I had to back it off a bit. Then I got hurt in Afghanistan in 2006; I picked it back up. Hockey was a life-saver for me.”

In fighting, Hill’s right ankle was essentially shattered and had to be completely rebuilt. “I’ve got titanium and all kinds of metal down there,” he said. His rehabilitation was long and, as they often are, difficult. “Physical therapy was great, but it just wasn’t aggressive enough. I was still walking with a cane. Well, I strapped on a pair of skates and started skating around, and the therapy I got from being on the ice basically got me working my right leg again.”

Hill’s story is a familiar one to anyone who plays with, or knows of , Warriors Ice Hockey. Composed of wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s part exercise, part amateur league, and part therapy. And this Thursday at 7pm, the puck will drop at Kettler on a big game — the Wounded Warriors vs. the Congressional hockey team.

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