Old-timers come back for hockey

Old-timers come back for hockey
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Ten old-timers came back to the rink of their youth on Sunday to once again strap on the skates and get in a days-worth of hockey just like they did when they were growing up in the 1970s.

The post-50-year-old players gathered for their annual “Old-Timers Reunion” at the rink on Avenue F and McDonald Avenue, where as kids, they strapped newspapers to their knees for padding and took whacks at rolls of black tape instead of pucks.

“It was a roll of “Scotch 88,” said Phil Fried, who made the trip from his home near Brooklyn College. “You can look it up.”

On Sunday, they slapped around real pucks and were wearing actually equipment, but that didn’t stop them guys from talking championship-caliber trash, just like in the old days.

“You need time-lapse photography to capture this,” said Dennis Maloney from the sidelines as his pals mixed it up. “Watching you guys is like watching glaciers move.”

Back in the 1970s and 80s, this rink was home to the 70th Precinct Roller Hockey League that, during it’s peak, had around 20 teams split between three age divisions.

The games were the source of rivalries and friendships, as teams competed for the coveted “Kenna Cup,” named for the neighborhood dad who bought the trophy for the league.

On the weekends, the court was filled big crowds and even cheerleaders all day, according to Larry Fried, Phil’s brother, and fights — both on and off the court — were common.

“Parents would get into fist fights with each other,” said Ron Lopez, 54, who’s been organizing these “old-timer” games about once a year for the last five years. “These weren’t exactly Park Slope parents.”

The league’s demise came in the late-1980s, when the rink’s wood boards caught fire a number of times.

“People would light fires in the corners,” said Larry Fried 50. “There were a lot of squatters.”

But now the rink, which was refurbished in the 1990s, is great shape, giving the old-timers a chance to relive days gone by, even if they get to it a different way.

“We used to skate down from our houses,” said Larry Fried. “Now we all come down in minivans.”