Old timers with 1-timers hit Ice Palace
IT took a while before the cobwebs disappeared.
And then, suddenly, it was as clear as a new sheet of ice.
The Ice Palace announcer introduced one NHL alumnus as Curt Bennett, the first American to score 30 goals in a season.
For whatever reason, the name didn't register right away. Much later, when another former NHL player, Ken Linseman, mentioned that Bennett played for Atlanta, the youthful memories rushed in.
Bennett wasn't a superstar back in the 1970s, but he was one of the leaders of the expansion Flames and we (great friend Bob McMahon and myself) knew him as a tall and rangy forward who we sometimes tried to emulate.
On Thursday, Bennett was at the Ice Palace among a group of 13 NHL alumni to play in a 3-on-3 tournament benefiting Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Growing up in Rhode Island, Bennett was a fan of Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins.
"They were my heroes, and when I made the NHL, they were the bad guys, the enemy," said Bennett, who is 58 and now lives on Maui.
Glenn Anderson was the most decorated player in Thursday's tournament. He won six Stanley Cups in his career, including five with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and the Edmonton Oilers.
The 45-year-old Anderson, who scored a late insurance goal in the 3-on-3 championship game, wondered before the final what the winners trophy looked like.
"It's a barbed-wire jockstrap, I think," he said jokingly, before agreeing that he might not want to actually win it all, for health reasons.
Linseman, who played for the Bruins and Oilers, was impressed with 17-year-old Jason Medeiros, who plays youth hockey at the Ice Palace and in an adult inline league in Mililani.
Medeiros said the old-timers were better than he thought they'd be.
"I noticed that as the players get older, they never lose (dexterity of) their hands," he said. "It was so fast out there, with a lot of good, nice passes."
MADD board member Molly Strode loved being close to the ice while watching her first hockey game.
"It's so fast and they have so much control, despite being in close proximity to so many sticks and skate blades. There's so much going on out there and there is so much skill. I was also surprised they were behaving so well. They were much more polite to each other than hockey players have a reputation for."
For me, it wasn't hard work. I competed in a shootout with adventurous John Veneri of KHON and brave Scott Robbs of ESPN 1420. Neither has much skating or hockey experience.
I got to take three penalty shots on Corey Hirsch, who last played in the NHL for the Dallas Stars in 2003 and played professionally up until last year.
Only one of the three shots had a chance, a waist-high wrister that deflected off of the 34-year-old Hirsch's body and went just wide.
Asked if he had any weaknesses, Hirsch's mind drifted a bit.
"Blondes," he said.