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November 29th, 2011

When I was in high school, my perception of college social fraternities was that they were hives of drinking during school and vehicles to run the world after school.  While the former perception turned out to be a corruption of the truth, and it’s too soon to tell if the latter perception will hold, I can say that my fraternal connections helped me find hockey in the Green Mountain State, Vermont.

I completely forgot that the Ben and Jerry's factory was in Vermont until I stumbled upon it.

Finding the game had been a mixture of luck and timing.  I had been searching without success for places to play in the state when the University of Vermont popped into mind.  I knew that the Catamounts had a D-I hockey team, so I figured they’d also have a rink.

Sure enough, they did.  What’s more, the rink web site had an exceptionally detailed schedule, which was unusual.  Most rink web sites show calendars for public events, if anything.  The University of Vermont rink’s web site had both public and private events listed, including the names of the groups and contact information for the group leaders.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a detailed rink schedule, before or since.

I began combing through the hourly schedule for the days I would be in town to see if there were any possibilities.  Many were considered and rejected until, by chance, one late-night block caught my eye.  It was reserved for Pi Kappa Alpha, my college fraternity.  I decided to work that connection.

I emailed Frank, the person listed as the contact for that ice time. Within hours, he responded.  Sure, he said, they’d be happy to have me on the ice.  Success!

Curled up with a warm computer in front of a low-tech fire. Ah, Vermont.

A couple days later, I showed up at the rink on the University of Vermont campus.  I was pretty early, so I milled about and watched the group that was already on the ice.  After a  little while, the rink attendant walked over to me.

“Are you with Kappa Delta Gamma?” he asked.

“Um… Pi Kappa Alpha?” I said.

“Yeah, whatever.  Room Four is unlocked for you guys.”


And so I went to the dressing room and started getting changed.

I went at a leisurely pace, and soon I was sitting in the room with the lower half of my gear on.  Alone.

I looked at the clock and saw only 10 minutes remained before the ice time.  It isn’t too unusual to see guys take a just-in-time approach to rink arrivals, but I was starting to get a bit nervous that I was either at the wrong place (unlikely), had the time wrong (possible), or that simply nobody else was going to show (plausible).  My contingency plans for how to play net against myself started running through my mind.

Concurrently, I couldn’t help but notice the odd smell of the dressing rooms.  There was the usual scent of hockey, yes, but there were strong overtones of reefer, too.  I figured that somebody had been hot boxing the room earlier in the day.  It was Vermont, after all.

Finally, with just a few minutes to go, five guys showed up for a bit of shinny.  I hadn’t really been sure what to expect in terms of numbers, but I was cool with that.  It helped that the five were so enthusiastic.

Vermont Pikes play hockey. Frank is the guy with the beard.

We did a sort of rotating 3v2 half-ice game.  It was laid back, even leisurely.  I felt like a kid on a pond.

We were just a bunch of guys messing around with sticks and a puck, hockey in its purest form.  There were no spectators, there were no refs, and there weren’t many rules other than to keep the puck low.  I had my pads on, of course, but everybody else went out with just skates, gloves, and helmets.

It was supremely enjoyable, and the time passed quickly.

Back in the dressing room after the game, we talked for a while about our individual hockey histories, our respective Pike chapters, and things I’d seen on my trip.  Soon, though, it was time for the students to retire to address homework.  Ah, school.

I’m still not sure if fraternities are involved in world domination, but if world domination involves hockey, I’m all for it.


  1. November 30th, 2011 at 11:14 | #1

    We missed the few years we spent in Vermont. What we didn’t miss was going to Ben & Jerry’s. We used to live (2007 to 2010) at stop B on this map. Stop C is actually a pretty nice ice arena: http://g.co/maps/3jf9k. It reads as if you had fun in Burlington, however.

  2. November 30th, 2011 at 11:15 | #2

    I should clarify….what we didn’t miss was having relatives come and visit and request a tour of Ben & Jerry’s. I suspect we made that tour about 6 times in our 3 years there. 5.5 times too many.

  3. Jeff
    November 30th, 2011 at 11:40 | #3

    @jimbo Oh wow, you really were close! I stayed up the road in Stowe the night before I stayed in Burlington, and it seemed like a very nice part of Vermont. Then again, all of Vermont seemed pretty nice.

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