Reps. John Katko, Pat Meehan, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer pose with Lawmakers teammate Peter Bondra after defeating the Lobbyists in the annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. (Photos by Chris Gordon)
When you hear that someone famous is a hockey fan, it has novelty, something not reserved for fans of baseball, basketball, and football. While we may be absorbed in the community, hockey is the smallest of all major professional sports in the United States. Many Americans have never watched it. Fewer have tried it. On Wednesday, however, it was featured at American’s center of power. In the afternoon, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman went to the Hill to meet with members of Congressional Hockey Caucus and announce Thurgood Marshall scholarship recipients. In the evening, four of those congressmen played in the seventh annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. Representatives John Katko (R-NY), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and Pat Meehan (R-PA) competed for the Lawmakers. They were joined on their team by former Capitals player Peter Bondra (RW-Slovakia) as well as administration officials, congressional staffers and Canadian Parliament member Gord Brown.
In an odd twist, Mike Sommers, the Chief of Staff for Speaker of the House John Boehner, sung O Canada before the contest.
“It’s a party trick,” Sommers said. “I’m a proud American that loves the Canadian national anthem.”
The Lawmakers faced off against the Lobbyists, a team that included influence peddlers, trade association employees, and Alan May. Both teams had members of the USA Warriors hockey team on their squad. Noted hockey player and Congressional Hockey Challenge veteran John Kerry was not attendance, perhaps because he is in Switzerland attempting to conclude the most important arms control agreement in decades. The State Department did not return a request for comment.
“Just sitting in the locker room, I see a lot of young guys, so I’m feeling old.” Bondra said before the game. “I’m nervous now.”
Bondra was good enough, assisting Katko on the game winning goal in the 3-2 victory for the Lawmakers, breaking a 3-3 series tie in the history of the game. The event raised money for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Fort Dupont Ice Rink, and the USA Warriors hockey team.
“I’m just glad to be a part of this,” Brown, the Canadian MP, said. “First of all, raising money for charity, combining politics and hockey, it’s great. I really enjoy being able to do all that.”
Reps. Meehan, Paulsen, and Emmer joke laugh during introductions.
Bondra watches from the bench.
Rep. Meehan pats MP Brown on the head before the game.
May gets sent to the box for trying, and failing, to hook someone.
Rep. Paulsen watches the game.
Bondra drives toward the net.
Rod Langway surveys the action from the Lawmakers bench.
The Lawmakers confer during a stop in the action.
Rep. Katko celebrates his goal.
Reps. Paulsen and Katko laugh on the bench.
Reps. Meehan and Paulsen (center) celebrate the victory.
Bondra during the handshake line.
Rep. Katko (center) shakes hands with the Lobbyists.
Rep. Meehan and May after the game.
The elected officials (and a photobombing Alan May) pose after the game.
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