by Katie Krause || AHL On The Beat Archive
The old saying “like two peas in a pod” seems to describe the unique friendship that San Antonio Rampage teammates Joe Callahan and Randall Gelech have. Not many people can spend almost 24 hours a day with the same person without wanting to pull their hair out at some point, but Joe and Randall somehow survive each other.
Callahan, a defenseman from Brockton, Mass., and Gelech, a center from Elfros, Sask., are both in their third year of professional hockey. They were both drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes (Callahan in 2002, Gelech in 2003) and attended summer camps that eventually led to them spending their rookies seasons together in Utah in 2004-05.
It wasn’t until they came to San Antonio to kick off the 2005-06 season with the Rampage that they really became friends and decided to room together.
“We have lived together for the past two years and never have had any problems,” explained Callahan. “In fact, our living situation has only made our friendship stronger. We make it work because we are both very care-free and have a lot in common.”
You will rarely, if ever, catch these two apart. “I think the only time we escape from each other is for the two hours we sit on the couch and watch TV or a movie and not say a word to each other,” remarked Gelech.
They don’t even use those infamous long road trips as an excuse to escape and choose to room together on the road as well. For the most part, every night it’s the same routine whether they are in San Antonio or on the road they almost always end their day with a movie. They are both movie buffs and listed The Boondock Saints as their favorite on a questionnaire at the beginning of the season.
Callahan couldn’t help but laugh about the similarity and joked that Randall’s favorite movie actually is The Notebook. “He is a romantic,” stated Callahan.
However, when the movie is over and it is time to clean up the popcorn (or maybe the tissues) Randall gets suckered into doing the cooking and cleaning.
“Joe’s idea of cleaning is dusting off the couch and spraying Febreze on some smelly shoes left on the floor in hopes that it will fix the problem. I mop, clean, vacuum and do the dishes. We often eat out but the few times we do eat at home, I am usually the one slaving over the stove,” Gelech explained. “Although, Joe can make a mean bowl of Cookie Crisps.”
They say opposites attract but these two couldn’t be farther from the truth. First of all they both weigh in at 220 pounds and stand at 6-foot-3. You can find them both on the golf course chasing around that little white ball when they aren’t skating along on the ice with a hockey stick in hand. In fact, for the past two years they have duked it out on the fairways to determine who gets the master bedroom. Not that anyone is keeping count, but Joe is 2-for-2 on the master bedroom and claims he is open to a rematch anytime.
Although Callahan admits that Gelech is the better golfer, he explains that Gelech lets his frustration get the better of him.
Callahan jokes that Gelech has too many feelings and emotions, and he just loves to talk about them all. “I hate it when he lets me go on a five-minute rant and doesn’t pay attention to a word I say and always waits til the very end just to make me repeat it,” Gelech said.
All friends have their issues but you will rarely find these guys without a smile on their face. They are always cracking jokes and despite a rough season so far, the team manages to keep their since of humor.
“Randall is like our locker room DJ. He dictates what is played most of the time,” remarked Callahan. “Unlike other teams who play music that pumps them up, we have joke songs that make us all laugh, but we still put our game face on when it is time to play. We just use humor as a way to calm our nerves and get us ready for the game.”
It is the nature of the game that allows these guys, who are trying to advance to the next level, to build unique friendships.
“It is the way us hockey guys are. We all get along very well. We are all here for the same reason and that is to play hockey. We are professionals,” explained Randall. “What happens on the ice stays on the ice. You can’t let that affect friendships. And same goes for our teamwork on the ice. You leave home at home and work at work.”
One can’t resist helping out a buddy, especially these kind-hearted guys.
“After a loss it is nice to have someone to talk to and get it off your chest,” Callahan suggested. “We critique and compliment each other about our performance after some games. We help each other out and make suggestions on how to improve and then Jeff Taffe usually comes in and tells us how bad we really are and then we both agree.”
“I watch all of my teammates since we all try to help each other out but I especially watch Joe, and I am sure he does the same for me,” said Gelech. “After a game we will grab a bite to eat and talk about how we played and usually the other person knows what they did wrong or right so no one ever gets upset over the criticism.”
As AHL hockey players it is inevitable that these guys most likely will wear many different jerseys in their quest to become the next NHL star. At the end of this season, both Gelech’s and Callahan’s contracts expire with the Rampage.
“Ideally we would love to be on the same team again, but realistically, it is completely out of our hands and no matter where we end up, 10 years down the road we will still be friends,” Callahan commented. “We will visit each other every summer and hang out. In fact, this summer he will visit me in Boston and I plan on visiting him in Canada.”
As true in this unique bond and throughout the entire league there is a sense of camaraderie in every hockey arena and once these guys come off the ice you will find that it is always a happy reunion no matter what jersey they wear.