From pond hockey to the rink.
After plying a pond hockey game in my 30’s, I just had to play organized hockey again. Mike felt the same, so I decided to look into finding a place to play. I found a team at Jolly Rogers ice arena that needed 2 players. The next year that team folded so I had to look again and I found a team at Belknap Park arena Officially called Griff’s IceHouse because this is where the Grand Rapids Griffins practiced. This was class AA league, tougher, faster, harder than class A like the year before. There were players who played college hockey and some that would go on to pro, it was fun but really tough. I was good enough to play in this league but I felt it was a little above my skill, class A was a little more my level.
After Mike and I played for 2 years on other teams we decided we wanted our own team, I was sick of looking for a new team every year. We called everyone we knew that loved playing hockey, mainly the ones who were at that pond hockey game that started the whole thing. I was able to get together enough people to start a team. I called Jolly Rogers and they said they had enough room for one more team on Saturday night so we took it.
When the season started the teams were given letters for names, A, B, C and so one until the teams submitted their official names. We didn’t really care, so we just kept our letter, “A”, A-team. Then something happened to give us our official name “West Side White Trash”. We were in the locker room after winning a game. The other team was in their locker room complaining how they can’t believe that those “west side white trash” guys beat them. Most of our team is from Grand Rapids west side. One of our players over heard this and came into the locker room to share what he heard, so we decided to make that our name, just to rub it in.
Our first year we took 1st place, that was the 96/97 year. It’s not like we just walked all over the other teams, it was a tough year with ups and downs. Our biggest help was Steve Zomberg in the net. He was more than a goalie, he was an on ice coach, he really knows the game. I played defense and depended on him. Every time the game was moving into our end of the ice I would be listening for his directions, he made me a better player by far. He was rewarded for this skill with a trophy for best goalie of the league. We also won trophies for leading scorer, Ted, 1st place for the regular season and for winning the playoffs.But winning wasn’t the best part of playing, it was that we were all friends.
The next season we were still hot, doing great, but we had trouble with jealousy from another team, The league commissioner had a son on one of the teams and every time we played them, we would end up with many of us removed from the game from unjust penalties. There was one game where the commissioners son was hitting Ted (our lead scorer) with his stick, in the face, ribs, all over. We told the ref to watch but it was obvious he knew it was happening and didn’t want to make a call. On and on this just kept going with no penalty and all our yelling for the ref to call something was useless. Eventually Ted had enough, he grabbed the kids stick and threw it over the glass, yea, that’s an immediate 1 game suspension.
Ted and I both called the commissioner to make sure, yup, he had to sit the next game out, but the kid hitting Ted with his stick, nothing. So we did lose the next game and were looking forward to Ted being with for the following game, 2nd, game after this penalty. Ted showed up, dressed up. The team we were playing was the team the commissioners son was on it, again, oddly enough. It was moving along good until Ted scored a goal. The other team started crying to the ref, saying Ted was supposed to be suspended. We explained to the ref the he served his suspension, but the ref said he had to sit out another game, total BS! We lost that game too. So we called the commissioner and we were told they decided to make it a 3 game suspension, so he had to sit out yet another game. We lost all these games. I don’t mind losing, as long as everything is fair. The commissioner did write a letter of apology, but also told us we can’t play there anymore, fine, we didn’t want to anyways. I don’t care for some lady running the league giving her “mama’s boy” preferential treatment. We still took a 1st and 2nd place, not sure if 1st was for regular season or the playoffs.
I think the reason for the trouble we had is because of how our first season went. The commissioners son was the leagues leading scorer and his team was usually first place. When we took all the trophies from them in just our first season, it really pissed her off, and I’m willing to bet the little mama’s boy was crying to mama about it too, so they made sure to do what they could to sabotage us in our 2nd season. I’m not sure of this, but it’s what a few of our players said that new more about the league than I did.
For the next season we ended up moving to the new ice arena in Walker by the police station. That was my last season, my knee started to give out on me and I had to quit. I did get a few good years out of hockey. I played 1 season at Jolly Rogers, 1 season at Belknap, 2 seasons with my team at Jolly Rogers then another season at the Walker arena. This is all great for me because when I had a motorcycle accident at 21 years old, I was told I’d never walk normal again. Now at 53 I’m facing knee replacement surgery, so I’m thankful for the time I skated.
Jolly Rogers Hockey is a joke! But we still had fun. The 96/97 season was our first year as a hockey team, just a bunch of friends out to have fun. We never thought that it would end the way it did, taking all the trophies they had, leading scorer, best goalie, first place for the season, first place in the playoffs. Not bad for our first time together, and more than that, first time playing organized hockey for many players on our team.
I used to have the scores for all the games from both seasons at Jolly Rogers on my old site, but lost most of the info in the transition to the new site, here is what I have left:
And that, Nov. 30, is where the season fell apart when they kicked are leading scorer, and it’s all the records I have…..