LAUREL — Most people don’t expect to see their grandfathers playing hockey with their friends. But that’s exactly what the Gerihatricks, a 70-and-older team, does at their weekly pick-up game at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel.
Most of the men don’t care who wins or loses. They say they’re in it for the exercise benefits.
“This is basically an aerobic sport,” said John Buchleitner, 76, who helped form the team over a decade ago. “If you watch, you don’t get the banging on your back and your legs you get with running,” he said.
Buchleitner’s son persuaded him to start playing hockey at age 63. “Dad, there’s a bunch of old geezers playing hockey, maybe you could come join ’em,” Buchleitner said, recalling his son’s phone call ten years earlier.
More than the exercise, the men enjoy the friends they’ve made on the ice. “You know it’s just fun and the camaraderie with the guys on the team as well as in the locker-room is a lot of fun also,” team captain Clark Torell said.
The team name is a creative play on the words “geriatric,” meaning the elderly, and “hatrick,” which is when a player scores more than three goals in one game.
In 1999, the team competed at the Senior Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., and won the championship the next year. The team also won the Gold Medal championship in Providence, R.I., in 2008.