Members of Congress have a special interest in beating this group of lobbyists.
On Wednesday night, just outside of Washington, the Lawmakers will faceoff against the Lobbyists in the Sixth Annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. Last year the members and their congressional staffers lost to the Lobbyists 3-2, with the private sector players boasting wins in three of the five annual matches. On top of that, the Lawmakers’ longtime leader, former Sen. John Kerry now heads up the State Department and won’t be on the ice. In addition to no longer serving as a lawmaker, Kerry is currently dealing with the international crisis involving Russia and Ukraine – but he remains "the honorable team captain."
“We think that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin might have done this just to help the lobbyists win their hockey game,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., another vital part of the lawmakers team.
Quigley said the Lawmakers are always at a disadvantage.
“You know, there’s a movie called ‘Dazed and Confused,’ he said. “One of the characters says something like, ‘I keep getting older, they keep getting younger.’ The guys we play, they sort of replenish, but the members are getting older and older.”
(The actual quote, uttered by brand new Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey in the 1993 movie was: “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”)
Still, Quigley plays a lot of hockey. He’s on the ice typically two times a week and bounced back from a hamstring injury incurred during last year’s game against the lobbyists, which took four hours of surgery and six weeks on crutches to recover from.
“I’ve had six surgeries playing hockey, a couple hundred stitches,” Quigley said. “I declare a victory when I don't get hurt.”
Quigley’s teammate Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., had a similar mantra.
“For me it’s a game of survival,” he said.
Meehan joined the Lawmakers in 2011 and noted that Kerry will be missed.
“Well, obviously he creates a certain degree of star power,” Meehan said. “Our wounded warriors … will give us an appropriate draw that will be just as exciting.”
USA Warriors will be playing on both teams Wednesday night and the game will act as a fundraiser for the NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Meehan noted another trick that the lawmakers will have up their sleeve: Canadians. This year for the first time, three members of the Canadian Parliament will join the American lawmakers on the ice – Gord Brown, Pat Brown and Rick Dykstra.
“Quietly, we hope they’re ringers,” Meehan said.
And if that doesn’t put the Lawmakers over the top, they’ll also be aided by former Washington Capitals player Peter Bondra.
The Lobbyists, however, sounded pretty confident they can keep the win in their column.
“From what I understand the lawmakers are pretty nervous,” said The Herald Group’s John Goodwin, who has played for both the Lawmakers and the Lobbyists throughout his Congressional Hockey Challenge career.
This year he’s back as a lobbyist.
“They’ve brought on former Caps player Peter Bondra to sort of pad their team, so I think they’re pretty scared of us,” Goodwin said. (Alan May, another former Capital, will suit up for the Lobbyists.)
“We had a decisive victory last year and I think we’re poised for another one,” Goodwin said.