by Tim Bugaile || AHL On The Beat Archive
The Lake Erie Monsters traveled out to St. Mary of the Woods Assisted Living Home in Avon, Ohio, recently with one goal in mind.
Last year, the St. Mary of the Woods Battling Beagles noodle hockey team took a convincing 10-5 win against an under-matched Monsters opponent, and this year’s Lake Erie team was out to even the score.
Playing with styrofoam swimming noodles as sticks, a beach ball substituting the rubber puck and using walkers in the place of traditional four-by-six nets, the Battling Beagles faced off against Mike Bartlett, Matthew Ford, Travis Gawryletz, Derek Peltier and Randy Rowe of the Monsters.
Facing the formidable five Monsters was an experienced Beagles lineup that included Reckless Rose, Craig the Crusher, Ava the Exterminator, Genevieve the Golden Girl, and, most notably, the team’s captain, checking in at 102 years young, Helena the Hurricane.
On the whole, the Beagles had experience on their side with the team’s average age checking in at 93. Far behind them in the age category was a youthful Monsters club, with a medium age in years on Earth being 25.
Before the game, both teams seemed ready for their respective opponent, as members of both squads exuded confidence in their pregame interviews.
“They have a good team over there, but we brought our ‘A’ game with us,” said Peltier, who was the lone returning Monster from last season’s noodle hockey team. “I brought some new guys with me this year, so we’ll see if we can get a little revenge.”
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True to the adjective that precedes her name, Reckless Rose proclaimed, “We don’t even have a game plan. We’re just going to go in there and fight.”
After pregame ceremonies that included player introductions, the national anthem and some noise from the Beagles cheerleading section, the teams squared off just after the two o’clock hour in the afternoon.
Staring down the opposition – the two teams sat in rows of five directly across from each other, approximately 18 inches apart– the Beagles and Monsters played a grueling, labor-intense game that lasted over an hour.
For a second straight year, leadership and experience proved to be the key ingredients for a noodle hockey win, and the Beagles cruised to a 12-5 victory.
“We were worried,” said Rose. “We thought we were going to lose because they wanted to get even with us for last year.”
But a few moments after her modest comments, Rose boldly exclaimed, and in a thunderous tone that all could hear, “The better team won!”
For their efforts, Rose and the Beagles were awarded the championship trophy. Passing it around from teammate to teammate, the Beagles even allowed the Monsters to touch the award, making sure they knew what they missed out on for a second consecutive year.
“They just shut us down,” said Bartlett. “We couldn’t get anything going.”
“They’re tough competitors,” said Peltier. “You can tell they’ve been practicing, and I think the ref may have been on their side,” he joked.
Added Ford, “They were in my head. They just intimidated us.”
Despite the heated physical and verbal exchanges, the teams gathered at the end of the intense competition to shake hands and take pictures. To ease the pain of their loss, and their all-time record against the Beagles falling to 0-2, the Beagles treated the Monsters to and enjoyed root beer floats with their archrivals.
With less than a month left in the regular season and Lake Erie fighting tooth-and-nail for a playoff spot, Monsters fans can only hope their team has learned from its noodle hockey defeat and will apply the lessons learned and the experience gained in future hockey contests, be it on the ice or in the assisted living home.