January 17, 2011
Every year, for the past five or six, my hockey team the Vancouver Flying Vees takes part in a Canadian winter pastime that most of never experienced growing up on the mild west coast of Canada: playing hockey in the great outdoors.
Stepping out onto the ice, into the elements, surrounded by trees covered in snow, ski chalets and towering mountains, is something that never fails to inspire, no matter what the weather. A winter classic: we’re playing hockey outside!
This tournament takes place on Apex Mountain, near Penticton, BC, and draws teams from all over the province and the Pacific Northwest. I’m not sure if it’s the altitude or just the excitement of being there, but the Flying Vees tend to party really, really hard at this tournament. On Saturday night, after our team posted a 3-0 shutout in blizzard conditions, beating the local Apex Team of liftees, ski instructors, and bartenders, we pretty much re-enacted a cross between Hot Dog: The Movie and The Hangover.
You know it’s going to be a great night when first you win a hockey game then follow it up with a celebratory naked hot tub back at the chalet, then hit the jam-packed Gun Barrel Saloon to table dance to the blaring cover band. It was during that table dance that the very biggest dude in the entire bar took issue with the way Nick “Lock-Eye” Thomas, my best friend, one of our teammates (and a frequent character in Adventures in Solitude), was… suggestively dancing… with his CBC Radio 3 scarf… doing the Gunga Din and various other outrageous moves.
When the thug challenged the… masculinity of the dance moves, Nick threw the scarf around this thug’s neck and tried to draw him up onto the table as Nick pumped his crotch in his face. The thug demanded Nick get down from the table, which Nick did, but not before throwing a half-full can of beer at him, hitting the thug directly in the face and covering him in beer.
Predictably, the thug chased Nick through the bar like an angry bull after a rodeo clown, until the thug and his buddies charged right into our team and the confrontation began. The thug leapt over several people to punch Nick directly in the face (I was blissfully ignorant of this entire episode, as I was dancing wildly by myself in the front row to the cover band as they did a spot-on version of the Violent Femmes‘ “Blister in the Sun“).
Nick and Young Greg (one of our defensemen) got kicked out as a result of the melee (the thug remained), so they went searching for the famed Apex igloo, a massive ice cave seemingly plucked right out of planet Hoth. No Wampas in this cave, just partying ski bums.
As Nick and Young Greg were trying to find the forest path to the ice cave, a Kenny Powers-like drunk on a snowmobile roared up beside them and offered the boys a lift with the phrase “get the fuck on if you dare!” They immediately climbed aboard, took off, and within twenty feet all three of them rolled the snowmobile.
Meanwhile, the rest of our teammates when out looking for Nick and Young Greg and found various adventures of our own, including breaking up a flat-out girl-on-girl ski-bunny cat-fight in the parking lot. Soon after that we found a weeping girl dressed only in a t-shirt and jeans, having just wiped out her pick-up truck deep in a snowbank. Three of us had the truck out of the snow with only minor damage to us and the truck.
Finally we found Nick and Young Greg in the massive ice cave with a DJ rockin’ it, Nick with a bottle of tequila in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other, both of them surrounded by bouncing neon ski bunnies.
When myself and Darwin “Galapagos” Green, another teammate, eventually stumbled from the ice cave at about 4AM to hit the sack back at the chalet, we hitched a ride with a crossed-eyed hippie guy who looked like a cross between John Denver and Tom Hanks in Castaway. He told us to hop into the back of his pick up truck and “sit over the rear axle to hold me down”. He then proceeded to wildly fishtail and skid his way up the hill, our weight seemingly doing nothing. Darwin’s advice to “better hold on tight” was a good one.
And now… the recovery. Thanks to Marc Tougas for putting on this amazing tournament every year, and to all the friendly players, girls and guys, and all my teammates for another great year in the great outdoors on the frozen sheet. SHUTOUT!!! Whoo!!!
See more photos here.