Hockey in the Desert – 2 February 1, 2016

Let’s get the hockey part over with quickly. We’d never played in the Las Vegas tournament before, and the convener got stuck on the fact we’re Canadians, and obviously masters of hockey.

Not. He put us in a division with teams far better than us, and we  found ourselves chasing 22-year-old U.S. collegiate players down the ice. Since our team’s average age is 45, we should probably have been placed in a division with IMG_1798the Colorado Middle Age Rage or the California Hot Flashes. As it was, the only way we could semi-keep up with the other teams was that they took partying seriously.

“I’m still drunk,” a 22-year-old confided one morning.

Not long afterwards, one of our players was in the arena office and heard an intercom plea.

“Anyone clean up the puke in dressing room four yet?”

In our defense, I should say that a year and a half ago, when our team played a tournament in Reykjavik, we were placed in the proper division and only lost the championship on a shoot-out. But with forty teams to jimmy around in Las Vegas—about 560 women—there was slippage.

Love the names, though: the Houston Harpies, the LA No Regretzkis, the New Mexico Desert Divas, two teams from Phoenix—the Miss Conduct and the Mid Ice Crisis—and the Alaska Humpies From Hell. Two other Canadian teams flew down from Vancouver, the Puckhawgs and the Marauders, and they carried the flag, both making it to the finals in their divisions.

Of course, with billionaire Bill Foley bidding for an NHL expansion team, there’s some hockey knowledge in town, and a couple of arenas. Our games were split between two suburban complexes, both with NHL-sized rinks, and each with air thickened by a nasty combination of cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes, exactly like the casinos on the Strip.

Yet we don’t travel just for hockey. Of our 14 players, all but one has kids, and when we added it up one night, there are 38 in total. This is known as getting away for a few days. And for me, anyway, Las Vegas had all the brilliance of the New.

IMG_1724And the neon. The glitz. And the flimsy, fragile tinsel, along with some pretty flimsy, fragile people.

To be continued…