PORTLAND -- They get together on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and it’s game on!
“Oh, I love it,” said Steve Lubitz. “I’m retired and it keeps me very, very active.”
He’s talking about floor hockey. He plays in the gym at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center in Portland.
“This is the best,” said Carol Howe, “I live for Monday and Wednesday night. I can’t wait to get out here.”
Nearly two dozen regulars meet and play floor hockey for two hours. The players range in age from teenagers to senior citizens. Lubitz said they started 35 years ago when he helped start a floor hockey class for 5, 6 and 7-year-olds.
“All of a sudden, the parents wanted to play,” said Lubitz. And they are still playing 35 years later. It’s a chance to enjoy the game of hockey they grew up with.
“It’s like a childhood dream,” said player Rick Brinkman. “You can pretend to be a hockey star, but it’s safe and there’s great camaraderie. You know, some of us have known each other for 20 years.”
“I started when I was just out of high school,” said 35-year-old Misha Goloborodko. “Friends of ours said there was a hockey game at JCC and I came over and I have been hooked ever since. We are all hockey fans, so this was actually great to play the game.”
Like most games, there have been improvements over the years, especially with the puck. For years they played with plastic pucks, but now they have switched to felt pucks. Scott Abrahamson said the plastic pucks bounced too much and hurt.
“They wouldn’t cut you,” he said, “but they would sting and you would get a welt.” He said the felt pucks fly and are easy to pass and shoot.
But from the goalie’s perspective it still takes work to stop them.
“Moving left to right, up and down, I literally lost three pounds of sweat during games," Goloborodko said.
“I just love the exercise,” said Howe. “And the guys are really great. It’s fun to hang out and talk and hockey is so fun and this is something easy. It’s right near my house and I just love the intensity.”
Brinkman has his priorities and his family knows it. “If I’m in town, I’m playing,” he said. "And anybody who visits, including my parents, they know: If it’s Monday or Wednesday, make other plans.”