“We promote having fun and socializing and I think that has a lot to do with clicking and being successful on the ice,” The Other Team captain John Emery said. “But even if we’re not, we’re still having fun, and it’s not the end of the world.”
As one might imagine, playing adult league hockey in Hawaii has a different feel.
Guys arrive at the Ice Palace Hawaii in Honolulu for a Tuesday game, lace up their skates and get a good sweat going inside the cold rink. After wrapping up, the players put on their shorts and golf shirts and walk outside to sometimes 80-degree evenings as the sun sets.
“It’s a little different from what we grew up with where we’d have to put layers on,” said The Other Team player Ted McAneeley, who grew up in Canada. “That’s the fun of it.”
It’s a laidback atmosphere for the players. The guys “hang loose” like a typical Hawaiian, and don’t take things too seriously.
That’s exactly how the guys on the adult team The Other Team live their lives and play hockey.
“Everybody always wants to be on our team because we’re the fun team,” The Other Team captain John Emery said. “It doesn’t matter how we do during the season, we usually jell together and pull it together at the end and win the thing.
“We’re a fun group of guys that has fun whether we win or lose. We’re kind of fourth-quarter specialists.”
The Other Team plays in the B League at the Ice Palace — which is the only rink on Hawaii’s third-largest island of Oahu — and every year there’s a draft that decides the teams. Emery selects different players each draft, but with only three teams in the league, guys have played together quite often season after season. There’s a lot of familiarity with the players.
There are quite a few military members who get stationed in Hawaii, so there is some different blood each year. But it can be a gamble drafting players with military ties.
“If a military guy transfers out before your playoffs and you depended on them all year, you can be in tough shape,” Emery said.
When new players move to Hawaii and join the league, it creates an interesting dynamic.
“You always have the wild card of new players coming in,” Emery said. “Sometimes you’ve never seen a new player and you try to guess from where they’re from and what their evaluation was and what the highest levels they’ve played, their age, all that comes into play.”
McAneeley is in his first season playing for The Other Team. He played in the WHA and NHL for the Edmonton Oilers and the California Golden Seals, competing in professional hockey from 1966-79. The 67-year-old loves still getting out on the ice and playing with a new team.
“[Emery’s] put together a good team and a lot of his friends he’s known over the years and some new ones he adds,” McAneeley said. “But everybody has a passion for hockey and the great game and play a couple times a week.
“The adrenaline still flows and we try and compete as hard as we can. It’s all fun and there’s a lot of camaraderie there. It’s kind of a release for a lot of professional people — we have doctors, lawyers, plumbers, tradespeople and a lot of military. It’s a great combination of how we can come together and it’s the game of hockey that brings us together.”
Going out and skating every week takes McAneeley back nearly 40 years to his playing days.
“You lace up the skates and you go through kind of the same routine and then you go out on the ice and kind of remember some of the great games you had in the NHL,” McAneeley said. “As time goes on you know what you want to do but the body doesn’t respond quite as quickly.”
Emery loves having a former professional hockey player on the team. McAneeley is known as a very mild player who fits right in with his teammates.
“He’s a solid hockey player, knows what he’s doing,” Emery said. “I respect history and obviously the NHL, so when I found out about him years ago and became friends with him, I always wanted to have him on my team. I’ve never been able to draft him; he’s always gone too high. This year, he came in late and I talked to the other captains and they agreed that I could have him, so I was delighted to have him on my team.”
The Other Team primarily consists of players in their 40s and 50s sprinkled in with a couple 20-something-year-olds. And then there’s McAneeley, who is the elder statesman.
“There’s a great group of people playing hockey at the Ice Palace and it continues to grow,” McAneeley said. “It’s a great mix of hockey players that just have the desire to play and get out there and enjoy that great game of hockey.”
The Other Team partakes in plenty of activities outside of league competition. They play in an old-timers tournament every April and get to the mainland occasionally to compete in events. Last July, team members traveled across the Pacific Ocean to Santa Rosa, California for the annual Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament.
It’s all about getting out and having a good time for the guys.
“We promote having fun and socializing and I think that has a lot to do with clicking and being successful on the ice,” Emery said. “But even if we’re not, we’re still having fun and it’s not the end of the world.”