Last night was 20 Prospect Jr.’s first hockey game of the season. As I have mentioned before, this is his first year playing “squirts” for the El Norte “Droogs”. (Up here in the North Metro, we likey the Ultra Violence).
Squirts is the 10-11 year old age group, where the sport becomes truly competitive for the first time. So this was the first “real” hockey game, with “real” uniforms, actual rules, penalties, and a referee.
Well, except for the referee part.
We discovered as we took the ice that our District does not supply referee’s for the Squirt games. This was news to us, and the coaches on the other team. So there we were, two full teams of kids excited to play hockey, a rink, a scoreboard, a timekeeper, and a bleacher full of parents and grandparents all excited to see their little Wayne Gretzky’s play hockey. No referee.
After about five minutes of confusion, and searching for someone with a pair of skates that would be willing to ref the game, one of the dad’s of a kid on our team stepped forward. I was relieved, since if he hadn’t I would most likely have been the guy to do it. The only thing holding me back being that I can’t skate nearly as good as the kids, and I don’t really know all the rules. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from being a coach.
I shouldn’t have worried. As the kids were going through their warmups our volunteer referee stepped out onto the ice, dressed in a purple Minnesota Vikings Jersey, and blue jeans, then promptly fell flat on his ass. Now, I assumed that this was purely nerves, since I have seen this Dad help out at a few of our practices and I know for a fact that he can skate. He’s not even one of the older Dad’s, I’m guessing late 20’s, maybe 30 years old at the most. So he’s also in pretty good shape.
So when the volunteer ref struggled to his feet, we called the boys in and got ready to start. As our ref got within about 10 feet of the bench, I could smell the booze rolling off of him like a cloud. He stopped by the boards to talk to the coaches, and his eyes looked like two piss holes in a snowbank. This guy was beyond drunk. He was blotto. I looked at the other coaches, and they looked at me and shrugged. So we said what the hell, and tossed him a puck. He dropped it, and when he bent over to pick it up, he went down for the second time. And so began the now infamous “Game with the Drunk Referee”.
I suppose we should have been appalled, and outraged. We probably should have intervened, and covered the children’s eyes. At the very least we should have taken his car keys away from him, and called a cab. If we had lived in Edina, or Eden Prairie or some tony rich suburb to the south, we’d have had the police escort him from the building. Instead, we let him skate it off for the next hour.
This is what happens when you live in the North Metro folks. It’s still 1984 up here. Get a mullet, a snowmobile, and a blaze orange hunting jacket and you will fit right in. I preferred to think of it as a teaching moment for the boys. “See? This is why we don’t want you kids drinking before the game! Save the beer, and whiskey until the after the game.”
Drunk Ref Dad fell so many times I lost count. Half of the game he was flat on his back, or pulling himself up on the boards. We should have charged extra for the entertainment. It was like having the San Diego Chicken out there. Minus the Cocaine, and the Chicken Suit.
As a proud Dad, I am happy to report that 20 Prospect Jr. now leads our team in scoring. He scored our one and only goal. Unfortunately, our El Norte Droogs were beaten soundly by the Ex-Urban McMansions. It’s tough for us older, inner ring suburbs to compete with those 5 year old towns full of three car garage, multi level homes on treeless lots. Until we start recruiting our Hispanic and Somali kids into hockey, the demographics are in their favor.
But we still kick their ass at Quarters, and Beer Pong.