Falmouth Adult Hockey League Takes Shape For Summer
By: Rich Maclone
Early next week, at a secret location, a handful of local hockey enthusiasts will meet in a conference room with sheets of paper scattered around them, scribbled notes at the ready, as they prepare to put together their teams. This isn’t a fantasy league looking to get an early jump on the 2012-2013 season; it’s a whole lot more serious than that.
Commissioner Brian Guest will oversee the annual Falmouth Adult Hockey League draft, somewhere locally, and he will do so with a smile on his face the whole time. The FAHL is the realization of a dream that Guest had about a decade ago of putting together a competitive summer league for all the guys who spent time and money renting out the ice at the Falmouth Ice Arena for their groups to play on a weekly basis. Public servants, construction guys, businessmen and hockey players from just about every other walk of life played with the same people on their regular nights but didn’t have a true local outlet to unleash their competitive juices.
Guest, who no longer plays in the league but still oversees it, believed that something could be done about that, so he did it. In 2003 the FAHL began as a four-team league that featured players with an average age somewhere in the upper 30s. Today it has grown to a six-team league that is much more competitive than it was back then.
“Over the years the competition started to improve and more younger guys were playing. Things kind of took off on their own,” Guest said.
Subscribing to the theory that simple is best, Guest does everything he can to make the league user-friendly. He said that the players want to just show up and play hockey and not worry about anything else, so he’s set up the league in a way that does its best to make that happen. The players spend $220 each to play. They’re assigned to a team and they pick up their jerseys. From there it’s a matter of adhering to the schedule and playing hard and not much else.
A list of local sponsors helps to defray the overall cost and make the league an affordable outlet for the hockey players. This year’s sponsors include Powers Construction, The Beach House, Mauer Plumbing, Green Pond Yacht Club, The Fishmonger and the defending champions from Cool It! Plumbing and Heating.
Each team consists of 13 skaters and a goalie. Guest said that applications are still being accepted to round out the player pool. Interested players can find all of the information they need on the Falmouth Ice Arena’s website.
Guest believes that the main reason the league is as successful as it has been is the biggest and most fun day for the league’s captains, Draft Day. Rather than allow the best players to congregate on the same squads, each season the teams hit the reset button and the captains draft their teams from scratch. With a talent pool that is improving every year, the captains who do the drafting all want to have the inside scoop on who’s who and what they can do. Former professional and college players litter the rosters, with some who are still on their school teams, as well as many former high school stars. “It was probably a C level men’s league when we started it, but now it’s got to be a high B level or low A level league. It’s really good hockey, and the guys really seem to enjoy it,” Guest said.
The draft not only allows for the talent to spread about, but it also helps to keep problems at a minimum. Guest said that because the rosters turn over each season, chances are that the guy you’re skating against today was on the same team as you in a previous season. Familiarity, in this case, breeds friendship and lesser chance for ugly altercations on the ice. “That’s been instrumental with keeping our problems down,” Guest said. “You know the person on the other team who might have gotten you with an elbow or a butt end (of a stick) in the corner. It’s not just a face on another team and you know that there was nothing to it.”
Playing with different players each season builds relationships and makes going to the rink a fun experience. Mike Powers, whose Powers Construction team has hoisted the recently repaired championship cup on three occasions, said that’s part of the reason he continues to play in the league. “The camaraderie in the locker room, just going to the rink and playing with guys you like being around (makes it fun),” Powers said. “We’ve got a good mix of players. I’ll probably be one of the oldest guys in the league this year. There were two or three guys on my team last year, that I was older than their fathers, but it’s good hockey. It moves quick; it’s fun.”
Joel Irving, who captains Cool It! and is also one of the deans of the locker room, agreed. “I like playing with the young guys mixed in with the older guys. That’s why my team always has a big mix of ages,” Irving said. “It’s not just the one team (that you’re on that you’re friendly with), you know guys on all six teams, so it’s hanging out with a great group of guys.”
The captains said that they are beginning to prepare for the draft, which is set for Tuesday night. Powers said that draft night really becomes about the luck of the draw and not just where his team is in the draft order. Last year he selected a great college player with his first pick who he thought would be filling the nets up on a weekly basis. That player was there for the first night of games and then failed to show up for the rest of the season because the commute proved to be too much for him. “That put us in a tough spot; you’ve got to get a little bit lucky, and do your homework,” he said.
Despite the attempt at secrecy, somehow the “secret” location of the draft seems to get out to a handful of the players each year. Undoubtedly, they’ll be waiting outside the conference room, waiting for captains to exit with their rosters to see which team they’ll be skating for. Whichever squad they end up on, chances are they’ll be playing on the same team as a couple of friends.
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