Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Player-Turned-Entrepreneur Speaks

My fascination with pit hockey has persevered. I have written about the game a couple of times on HBIC, but it seems to be a bigger story that has been lost in the complexities of time. I first wrote about it in 2012, and it seemed to be a new version of the sport. I had asked for anyone who knew about the sport to step forward. Earlier this year, Seth H. stepped forward with an email that started to shed some light on the game. Today, readers, I am extremely excited to present a guest writer who has extensive knowledge of the game!

The jersey seen above was worn by Evan G. during his time at Stony Brook in the early-1980s! Evan's emails started off in the most awesome of ways when he wrote,
I've attached a pic of my jersey from those days, which I have kept all these years because it never seemed right to get rid of it.
Let's just say that we exchanged a few emails, and Evan has a great story to tell about his past involvement in pit hockey at Stony Brook and a new venture which I'll speak about after his article.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is Evan G. with his story on pit hockey at Stony Brook University.

I grew up in Buffalo NY and whether it was lack of skill, money or parental enthusiasm, I never made it onto the ice. This led to a childhood centered around street hockey, and when it was time to go to college, I happened to see a photo in a promotional brochure from SUNY Stony Brook of something called "Pit Hockey." It would be a lie to suggest this didn’t play a rather outsized part in my deciding to attend that institution.

I am guessing that photo was long gone by the time I arrived at the school since it had suspended its support for Pit Hockey due its violence and was no longer part of the intramural calendar. It was so popular, both among the players and the spectators, that the students got together and supported it themselves.

The games were played on an asphalt surface sunk maybe three feet below the surrounding grass and edged with concrete (hence "Pit Hockey"), perfect for street hockey since the ball would simply hit the cement walls for any shot lower than three feet.

We formed our own teams, had jerseys made and scheduled games, refs and all. If memory serves, we had practices during the week and games on the weekend. We more minimal equipment: shin guards, maybe a mouth guard and some gloves. Actually, similar to rugby, wearing excess equipment was frowned upon. I have a distinct memory of a new player showing up in pretty much a full set (shoulder pads, elbow pads, etc) and he was treated particularly bad. There were a lot of penalties, fights etc. The majority of us who played lived on campus so we all knew each other, which isn’t necessarily a plus when it comes to leaving the game behind when it was over.

Players would try out for existing teams or simply start their own. The Stony Brook Ice Hockey team even had a team (clearly not adhering to traditional intramural regulations).

I also have distinct memories of a break between periods when, en masse, our team left the sideline and adjourned to a bathroom in one of the surrounding dorms for some illicit pick-me-up indulgence.

Among the highlights for me personally was when the guys who ran the concert promotion department were able to get lights and speakers and beer made available to move some games to be played at night. A lot of people showed up and to this day I have fond memories of playing “under the lights.” I actually got my name in the paper for scoring the first goal of the first night game. If I’m not mistaken, the guy who set it up was named Danny Lupi, this kid from England, who wound up becoming a well-known Hollywood producer.

Years later, I brought my kids to the campus to show them where we played, only to discover that the whole "Pit" had been filled in with planters and earth. I don’t know when that happened but looking back, it was amazing we were allowed to play at all, from a liability point of view.

Honestly, that is one of the greatest personal stories HBIC has received to date. Having an actual participant from the pit hockey games is incredible, and I am honoured and privileged to be able to give Evan a space to tell his story on an extremely niche slice of the hockey world. Thank you, Evan, for telling your story!

The part that I enjoyed most in reading his account? The part about playing under the lights. That is such a cool idea, and I am envious that history will show that Evan was credited as the first player to score under the lights! Congratulations, Evan, on that piece of history!

Just as a piece of trivia, Danny Lupi, for what it's worth, is a pretty well-known producer in Hollywood. He was the executive producer on movies such as Her, Lincoln, Catch Me If You Can, and produced or co-produced blockbusters like Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood. Yeah, the kid did pretty well for himself!

The second reason why Evan is getting lots of space here on HBIC is because of his new venture. I'd like to present snipetownnyc, a brand-new publication available only in the New York City area for now, but may expand its borders once people start reading it! According to the release, snipetownnyc is "focused on the culture & sub-culture of hockey in the New York City area" and "places the sport in the modern spotlight it deserves, uniting all serious players and fans in a celebration of the hockey lifestyle and spreading the word about the only game that matters." Pretty cool, right?

If you're looking for a copy of snipetownnyc, the magazine "will be distributed at every rink, pro shop & retailer within a 3 hour radius of New York City, including the five boroughs, Long Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania & upstate New York. In addition, copies will be available at relevant boutiques, coffee shops, drinking establishments & locker-rooms throughout the city." If you haven't clicked it already, check out the website, follow and like snipetownnyc on Facebook, and check out snipetownnyc's Instagram for more good stuff!

Pit hockey and a great new hockey magazine? Today's entry is all sorts of awesome thanks to one man: Evan G. All you have to do is lend him your support.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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