Author: Amanda Thornton

Maggie Stack – What Gay Hockey Means to Me Essay – 2022-2023

“You play hockey?”

As an overweight 42-year-old mother of two, I often get this question when I talk about my hobbies. The look of surprise then fades, and the next thing most people say is “That’s awesome!”

Yeah. It is.

So how did I get here? And (given the title) what does it mean to me? Let’s get into it!

My little brother played hockey when we were growing up in Minnesota.  I was busy with my own things at the time, like band and speech team and softball and theatre, so I left him to it and never imagined myself as a hockey player.

Fast-forward 20 or so years, and one day I got the call from my mom that my brother, a Green Beret, had been killed in action in Afghanistan.

My world shattered. Our parents, my sister, everyone who knew him: All of our worlds shattered. And I struggled to pick up the pieces for a long, long time. I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation, and it served as a wakeup call that got me into therapy, where I learned to feel my feelings no matter how difficult they were.

Eventually (putting the “G” in “MGHA”), I realized that some of those feelings were super gay. And that’s how I finally figured out my sexual orientation at age 37: by doing the serious self-examination that helps people grow after a tragedy. My therapist once called it Adam’s final gift to me.

This self-discovery meant that I had to end a 15-year marriage to someone I loved. We had to tell our kids that we were getting a divorce, and to this day it’s one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had. It was an incredibly painful time in my life, but as is often the case, it was also one of the periods when I grew the most as a human and started to connect with my own story.

I learned to survive in a world without Adam, and I slowly learned more about who I was. Over the years, I had let myself fall into the trap that many parents do, where I was only doing things for other people and had nothing to call my own. I’d drive my kids around to their activities and wish I had something that was just mine. At the time, that wish felt selfish, but now I can see that it was probably healthy. In any case, it put me in a place where, when my friend Nick encouraged me to join the MGHA, I was ready to say yes.

It wasn’t long into my first season with the MGHA that I came to realize what a uniquely supportive community it is. My mentor Ingrid and my captains Trisha and Erik all helped set that tone, and so did pretty much everyone I came into contact with in the league. I learned at my own pace (fittingly glacial) and my then-girlfriend (now wife) told me that my skills improved drastically from the beginning of the season to the end.

My first year was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I focused on learning something new each game, even something small like climbing over the boards, so that I could celebrate those small wins. I was able to connect with my team, the league at large, and once again – myself. I loved having something to call my own. I loved talking about hockey and the MGHA to anyone who would listen, and I still love it to this day.

Once I forged those connections and realized that these were my people, I took advantage of the many opportunities to get more involved with the league. I applied for membership and volunteered to join the recruiting committee. Then I received an email asking if I wanted to be a captain. Of course I instantly wrote back saying it must be a mistake – me, a captain? I loved hockey, but I was still objectively terrible at it!

Eventually, I decided to jump in and see how I could help the league as a captain. I joined the Orange Crush team and was paired with Rob, who is an excellent hockey player and coach. I still didn’t have much in the way of technical skills, but the MGHA is so special in how it allows people to flourish and find their own unique style. I helped out with moral support, communication, keeping good vibes going in the locker room, and anything else I could contribute. It enabled me to connect in new ways with my own talents, as well as with people like Rob who balanced me out.

Our team didn’t win many games, but you would never know it if you’d come into our locker room after a loss – I’ve never been part of a team with that much of an upbeat attitude. It was a fantastic season: Everyone grew in terms of hockey knowledge, we were truly able to connect as a team, and it helped me learn even more about who I am as a person and a leader. To this day, when I look at that captain’s C on my jersey, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride.

The moral of the story is: If you want to start playing hockey at age 40, you can! If you want to be a captain even though you can’t skate backwards or do a perfect hockey stop, you can! Again, there are so many opportunities to get involved with the league.

In the end, gay hockey, for me, is a way to connect with my brother who’s no longer with us. It’s a way for me to connect with the parts of myself that I kept hidden for so long. And it’s a way to connect with amazing people who all promote the MGHA Way. It’s a beautiful rainbow connection that makes the MGHA an important part of my life and the lives of so many others.

“You play hockey?”

Hell yeah I do.

Austin “Cas” Hutchison – What Gay Hockey Means to Me Essay – 2022-2023

Canada is big on hockey. From the age of 3, I was a lot like many other kids, lacing up skates I’d quickly outgrow and learning how to balance on ice. A stick soon gets put in your hands, and before you know it, you’re on a team with a bunch of other kids who hardly know how to avoid each other, never mind make a play with the puck.

You learn to skate backwards. You learn to crossover. You learn how to pass, shoot, find space. You learn a lot about the sport growing up in its birth place, but there was a distinct lack of focus through my years on learning what it means to be accepted in a community. Hockey as a culture demands much of its players, both physically and mentally. At all levels, while a coach asked you loudly to skate harder, they also demanded of you silently to sit down, shut up, and fall in line.

It got worse as I got older. The longer you play, the deeper culture gets ingrained. Inside the rink without a doubt, but outside of it too. You see teammates at school, in town, and eventually, for a 15 year old Cas (who wasn’t even going by Cas yet), you realize you’re trying to make your way through self-discovery while playing in a sport that wants nothing to do with you. The hazing culture as a teenager wasn’t anything I wanted to be a part of, certainly not when I was struggling with my own emotions off the ice in relation to being queer and trying to hide everything from a sporting world that would absolutely not have my back if they found out.

How was I sure of that?

I avoided the hazing. The coach himself, a middle aged man and father of one of the older players, made sure that in a practice I was the center point of abuse and violent drills as punishment.

Shut up and fall in line. That’s all it was. I loved the sport, but the sport didn’t really love me. So I left. I endured that year and ended my career at 16, not willing to be abused and be hidden for 2 more years. It really ate at me as an athlete, not having that sporting outlet. However, it let me breathe a little as the years went by. Sacrifice one thing to benefit elsewhere, that’s how I saw it. If I needed to drop the sport I loved to mentally be alright, that was okay. I attended some drop-in games over the years, I didn’t really talk. I moved to another part of Canada, the locker rooms had the same dread of heteronormative culture inside of them. So I showed up to pick-up, I grimaced at the jokes every day about women players and gay players, and I never spoke. Wasn’t worth it. I got to be on the ice again, and that was that.

Across the continent, my best friend and then MGHA player Soup was talking to me every day. I shared with him experiences, my worries, and in return he shared details about the league he was in. It sounded crazy, everything from the outward acceptance to the sheer size of the league. Maybe I could find something like that nearby.

Better than that, I found myself through a period of strife and discovery moving to city of Madison, and best friend became my partner. My partner, in the 2022 Classic, became a teammate. I got to see what it was like for the first time to enter dressing rooms where the air wasn’t choking the breath out of me for being queer, but in fact welcomed who I was.

I still didn’t talk a lot. I said hellos, and I listened. I nodded, I got a feel for how everyone was, and we played hockey. It was my first organized experience in a decade, then a 25 year old playing for the first time on a real team since I was a troubled teenager.

It was one of the best experiences of my life.

The summer went by, and I was signed up ASAP for the 22-23 season. Nervous as hell, no real clue what to expect, but I had a goal to become more comfortable, play well, and let myself relax and enjoy a new environment that was unlike what I had growing up. Game by game, little by little, I talked a bit more, made a few more jokes, opted to try and help out where I could. My captains (shout out to Leif and Maddy!!) were incredibly welcoming, and were an amazing example of people who could make anyone feel like they belonged on and off the ice.

They, and everyone in this league, helped change the scope of what I came to expect from a locker room and of hockey itself. They gave me the confidence to start using pride tape, to put stickers on my helmet to display pride at any ice surface, and start to advocate for that same acceptance elsewhere. There’s honestly a sore gap in my heart as I type this with the season over, waiting for the next to start. I can’t wait for the 2023 Classic, and social meetups, and more events.

On top of that, I feel incredibly honored that I was asked to be a captain for a tournament team this year. I don’t think very highly of myself a lot of the time, and I think that’s an unfortunately shared experience of a lot of people within the queer spectrum. It’s laid on us by a lot of hate and discomfort over our lives, and communities like the MGHA are important to undo that.

Being given a chance to be a leader and help other people have the same experiences I did?

Couldn’t say yes fast enough.

This league helped change my life, and as long as I’m nearby, I’ll be playing in it and doing what I can to help it grow.

Canada is big on hockey, but the MGHA is big on its players. The hockey world needs this sort of focus if it’s going to change, and I don’t think there’s a better example out there of how to do it than this league.

Thank you everyone who I played with, and against. Thank you everyone who helps run the league, and every volunteer. Thank you Soup. You all do much more than you know.

Matthew Greene – What Gay Hockey Means to Me Essay – 2022-2023

Deep breath in.

You’ve got this. All eyes on you. You’ve got this.

Shifting my weight, I looked down at my new cleats, bobbing my head to psych myself up. Navy blue socks covered my shin guards, a soccer ball between my feet.

Childhood me before a soccer game.

You’ve got this.

The boy ahead of me launched forward at the sound of the whistle.

You’re up next.

Behind me, I felt the sun on my neck, heating the number 12 emblazoned on my jersey’s back. A light breeze blew across the field, still soggy from melting snow. It was springtime in Rhode Island. I shifted my weight again, moving the ball to the outside of my foot.

The whistle blew.

Let’s do this! Use the outside of your cleat to push the ball out to the left, gather some speed, move the ball back to the right, take aim, and shoot!

I watched the ball leave my laces, racing towards the lower left corner of the goal. The goalie moved, but the ball was just out of reach. Relief flooded my body.

No way! I did it! I actually did it!

I was six years old, playing on my hometown’s boys’ travel soccer team. For the first time, I was on my own; my older sisters were no longer my teammates and protectors. And I’d done it. Here, at our first practice, during the very first drill, with all eyes on me, I’d scored a goal. Try as I might, I couldn’t stifle a grin and the feeling of pride in myself. I turned and started to jog to the back of the line, passing the coach.

“Oh great, we’ve got a Baryshnikov on the team,” he said, rolling his eyes as I went past.

That’s a weird word.

Practice continued with passing drills, throw-in lessons, and footwork training, darting and dodging through a course crafted by cones. With each minute my confidence grew. I might not be so bad at this soccer thing.

“Hey, Twinkle Toes, maybe you should try running like a boy!” I turned around, not sure what was happening, only to see the coach slapping his assistant on the shoulder, doubled over in fits of laughter. I looked to my left, to my right, wondering what was so funny.

“Yeah, you! Run like a boy, Greene!” shouted the coach, mockingly pronouncing the otherwise silent e at the end of my name.
I froze.

They’re talking to you. They’re laughing at you. What did you do wrong?

Time crawled as the other boys turned in slow motion, looking at me and laughing. Sure, some likely didn’t know why they were laughing, just that everybody else was, so they should, too.

“Stop running like a pansy!” the coach shouted at me, shaking his head.

As the years passed, I began to withdraw into myself, building an internal wall for self-preservation. Not once did I participate in any kind of athletic activity without hearing those words echo in my mind. I became concerned with how I stood, how I walked, how I ran, furtively studying those around me to try and understand what I was doing wrong. Season after season, year after year, I tried out for soccer, basketball, tennis, and volleyball, always with the same unsuccessful result — and the same comments, the same eyerolls.

Several years later, I was home alone on a fall afternoon while my sisters were off at soccer practice. I sat down at my family’s desktop computer, initiating the long, loud sequence of dialing into the internet. I was thirteen and the internet at home was still new and exciting, a whole world at your fingertips. I was discovering a new set of skills and interests and, opening the AOL browser, I pecked at the keys one by one, typing in C-Y-R-I-L-L-I-C. As the page loaded in increments, I sat there entranced, looking at the familiar yet odd letters, quietly pronouncing them: А а, Б б, В в, Г г, and so on. I’d become enthralled by languages and had begun spending my time collecting dictionaries, reading grammar books, and teaching myself to unlock the mysteries of new alphabets, first Greek and then Cyrillic. Russian history fascinated me and I’d spend hours turning the pages of books I couldn’t read, wondering what secrets were hidden among the shapes on the page and imagining how my life might be different if those were my letters, my language, my world. With the alphabet on the screen as my guide, I turned to a list of cognates in the textbook lying open in front of me. Slowly, I practiced sounding out each word — парк, театр, балет — eventually moving to full sentences with authentic Russian names. I froze: Михаил Барышников артист балета.

There before me stood the word that had rattled around inside my head for years, that coach’s voice filling my mind every time I kicked a soccer ball, dribbled a basketball, held a tennis racquet. One of the unanswered questions of my childhood was suddenly addressed: Mikhail Baryshnikov is a ballet dancer.

Though the Russian original referred to Baryshnikov more broadly as a ballet artist, the weight of the words “ballet dancer” crashed over me as I recognized the disdain behind the coach’s comments, a new layer added to what I’d already grasped so many years before. Nowadays there’s a double sting to it, for despite knowing that ballet dancers are among not only the strongest and most impressive athletes but also the most competitive, the pejorative connotation remains embedded in my mind, the taunts of my coaches and teammates still haunting, causing a conflict between logic and hurt.

That same refrain played in my head at the height of summer 2022 while hiking with my partner, Sean Hubbard, in the north of Wisconsin. As we wandered among waterfalls with temperatures climbing towards the triple digits, he asked me the most unexpected question: are you interested in playing hockey with me this year? For the past several winters, we’d spent time out on the Tenney Lagoon with him, an experienced skater and hockey player, helping me learn to skate properly, showing me how to receive a pass, and picking me back up after hitting the ice yet another time.

Hockey had interested me since childhood, with Friday nights often spent an hour from home at Schneider Arena on the campus of Providence College, my father’s alma mater, cheering on the team. It was also a sport, though, that was financially out of reach, compounded by a lack of nearby rinks. Now Sean was presenting me with the opportunity to learn and play with other beginners, in a league created by and for queer people. And still, I paused.

In my head, that pause was filled with the sound of children laughing, of being called Baryshnikov, Twinkle Toes, pansy, and more. Memories flashed through my mind of pushing myself at tryouts season after season, but never seeing my name on the final roster; of jogging on a treadmill while scanning the room through my peripherals to make sure no one was watching; of registering as a free agent for volleyball as an adult, but never being a part of a team. Would this be just one more experience to add to my rolodex of embarrassment?

I trusted Sean, though, and that night submitted my application to the Madison Gay Hockey Association. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that would come to be a defining moment. A few weeks later, I found myself sitting in the locker room with a host of other beginners being led through the different stages of dressing for hockey. As I pulled the laces on my skates tight, feeling the pads shift around me, nerves began to set in. Forcing the helmet down onto my head, I slid on my gloves, grabbed my stick, and wobbled towards the ice. My nerves increased and the same tired refrain set in in my mind, the jabs and taunts replaying again and again.

Trying to push those voices aside, a new one filled my ears, bellowing “Circle up!” In the center of the ice stood Mark Nessel, ready to lead our first training session. Patiently awaiting our arrival around him as we slipped, skidded, and fumbled across the ice, our surrogate coach for the evening looked at each of us individually, acknowledging our place alongside him. With a broad smile, he nodded in a slight bow. “Before we get underway, I want each of you to know how proud I am of you. Hockey is difficult. Hockey is fast. Coming out onto the ice at any age takes courage, and I admire each of you for your willingness to try something new as adults. Do your best. Have fun.”

In that moment, the wall within me wobbled: here before me stood a cisgender, heterosexual, masculine man about to lead an athletic training session and rather than chastise, taunt, or ignore me, he instead offered praise and encouragement. His next words shook that wall a bit more: “Now everybody, fall down!” We looked at each other, slightly confused, and again Mark cried, “I mean it! Let’s all fall down!” And we did. One by one, we all ended up on the ice, lying, kneeling, sitting, and Mark joined us, along with Amanda Thornton. Together, they demonstrated how to stand back up in such a way as to control your center of gravity and maintain your balance. “Now you know,” Mark said, looking at each of us individually again, “that it’s ok to hit the ice. And you also know that you have the skills, the knowledge, and the strength to get back up.” The wall started to teeter.

Stefa and me at a Blue Screen of Death Practice.

In the weeks and months that followed, the voices that had haunted me for so long diminished, replaced instead by the cheers of my teammates — and of the teams we faced. Together we celebrated our victories, with both teams erupting in cheers and whoops for every goal. Keeping score came to feel more like a formality than a necessity. On the ice, I found myself all too often locked in a dance with another team’s player as we held onto each other, trying to remain upright, ultimately descending into fits of laughter, the puck long forgotten. As my teammates came off the ice, we tapped gloves, congratulated each other on a great shift, and complimented strong skating and well-executed plays. At the start of the season, I’d chosen defense as my preferred position, the same I had played in soccer. From the first time we took the ice together, my fellow lines player Stefa Cartoni Casamitjana and I felt instantly connected, as if bound together by an invisible cord, one which pulled us together along the ice, thinking as one to protect our goalie, Laur Rivera.

Each week, another brick in my internal wall came down. For the first time, I found myself in an athletic environment that was supportive, queer, and truly and definitively centered around joy. Still, a part of me secretly hoped to score a goal by the end of the season, though chances of that seemed unlikely as a defender. Instead, I channeled my energy into improving as a skater and player and sharing what I’d figured out with those around me. In the penultimate week of play, Christy Churchill stepped in as a sub for our team, skating out for the first time! They joined us on the defensive line and it was an absolute joy to play with them and feel a sense of accomplishment as the season came to a close that I was able to share some of my own knowledge and insights. Directly following that game, I in turn subbed for my first time, joining Orange Crush, where I found myself playing left wing, my first time on offense. As the starting line took to the ice for face-off, I noticed the stands were surprisingly full, the largest crowd I’d ever seen at one of our hockey games.

After a few shift changes, I began to get my legs under me and my wits about me.

Don’t go too far back, you’re not on defense. Stay in position. Stay out here.

Our defense was locked in battle to protect the goalie from a yellow powerplay, working to clear the puck out of the zone.

There’s a gap over there where you’ll be open. That’s where you want to be.

The defensive line was successful and suddenly the puck was sliding towards me. Without thinking, I shifted my weight to rotate on my skates and leaned back onto my left skate. My stick cradled the puck and I launched forward off my left skate, gliding with my right.

It’s open ice now, nobody’s around!

I looked back over my shoulder — one on, but still plenty of space. The goalie’s eyes were locked on the puck, waiting for my move.

Use the blade to move the puck out a bit. Shift your weight. The lower left corner is open. Shoot!

Relief flooded my body. I’d done it, I’d actually done it. The stands erupted in cheers, but I could barely hear them — the goalie had just fished the puck out of the net and turned to look at me. We burst out laughing and I skated forward into Christy’s arms. Where minutes before we had been teammates, now we found ourselves opposing each other, but that meant nothing. As we hugged, I shouted, “I’m sorry, friend!” and they shouted, “Great shot, friend!”

The puck from my first MGHA goal.

Turning to skate back to my bench and finally hearing the cheers of my team and the spectators, I knew with that one shot, I’d destroyed the wall within me once and for all. I might not be so bad at this hockey thing.

I sat down on the bench, grinning.

Deep breath out.

Blue Screen of Death after playing in the L1 Championship.

2022-2023 Essays: What Madison Gay Hockey Means to Me

Now that the season is over and we’re all a little sad to not be seeing our teams and friends on the regular, it’s time to reflect on what hockey has meant to us as individuals. We all are changed in some way by being a part of this league and community. Writing and sharing our experiences helps others learn and grow and new players see a potential path for themselves into hockey and the LGBTQIA* community. Our Lives Magazine runs an essay contest on this subject each season and the winner gets published in the magazine as well as their dues waived for next season.

All are encouraged to write an essay. All 2022-2023 league participants are eligible for this contest (except previous winners). Essay length is not set, take as many or few words as you need to speak from the heart.

More explanation of this as well as previous essays can be found here

If you only read one essay, I recommend Geoffrey’s essay from 2008

Last year’s winner, Dexter Lane, in Our Lives Magazine

Fun factoid: these essays are what someone at the NHL found and fell in love with and got them here to make a video about us. Oh, didn’t know the NHL made a video about us?

Please send your essay submission to Amanda Thornton. Essays will be read and voted on by members of the current board and captains who do not enter this year’s contest.

Deadline is April 16th!

2022-2023 MGHA All the Way Award Winners

Here are your 2022-2023 MGHA All the Way Award Winners and the nice things their teams had to say about them.

Cookie Monsters: Gwen Kay
Gwen is always showing up every week with a smile on her face and a fire in her heart. She gives everything she’s got to help defend our team and plays in the MGHA way.

Sith Happens: Liz Stadtmueller
Liz is always pumped up and positive in the locker room. She is very communicative on the ice and gives her all during games.

Liz is such a positive force on the ice. She’s cheering for everyone and providing feedback in the huddles. She is always talking to Suzanne about where the puck is, she’s kind of a goalie whisperer.

Queer Lime Pie: Angela Trentadue

Angela is super fun, spirited, and kind. I always enjoy chatting with her in the locker room, the bench, and skating on the ice. Angela is an Absolute can do hockey player, fun on the ice and in the locker room. Supportive and caring, an all-around excellent player!

The IncREDibles:  Jules Shatten
Jules had a fantastic first season with the MGHA—their spirit, enthusiasm, and hunger for hockey came through in every moment on the ice, and they brought their giant smile and great questions to the locker room every week. Jules is truly IncREDible!

Assembly Required: FL Morris
FL completely embodies the spirit of the MGHA, and is one of the best examples of a “rising L1” player that I can think of. They are engaged in team emails, always responding and keeping the positive spirits alive before big games and practices!

On the ice, they are lightning quick, but take time to play inclusively, skate in control, and pass often to their teammates. In the locker room, if they’re passing out apples from their apple orchard, or cheering on fellow teammates for a job well done—they embody the MGHA way in every aspect of their interaction with the league.

This was FL’s first year playing hockey with MGHA. She really got into it, asking lots of questions, subbing up to L2 games and skating hard every week. She was also a great asset off the ice, offering encouragement and tips from things she had learned. I hope to be able to play with her again in the future.

FL is a team player through and through, and while it’s hard to choose someone from a whole team of hard working and enthusiastic people, I think she stands out for this award. She’s worked hard to be our defense this season, and she’s always on top of communication and lifting the team up.

FL has been an awesome team remember who has always been super encouraging and kind all season. This is her first year playing hockey and she always has a good attitude and has fun and is nice to everyone! FL always had a positive and encouraging attitude in the locker room and shared helpful advice and suggestions during our practices and games.

Orange Crush: Casey Kautzmann
Casey jumped into her first year with great enthusiasm. She obviously loves the game of hockey and often does outside skating during the week, and you can tell by how much she’s improved in terms of passing, skating, and shooting the puck. She helps contribute to the super great vibes on Orange Crush by playing music in the locker room too!

Casey worked hard on the ice and was always positive in the locker room. She arranged social and hockey gatherings outside of MGHA time, and was always eager to learn new things.

She did her best to make every game, cheered loud on the bench, always brought the warmup tunes, and put in work outside of the league.

Always gives a full effort and brings energy to the bench

H2-Ohhhhh’s! Christina Libs

Libs is always so encouraging and has such a positive attitude at every game! She always does her best to make sure everyone feels included both on and off the ice. The way her (and Gabby) handled some sensitive situations with our team this year was with a lot of respect and maturity, much better than I would have handled them. It’s an honor being her teammate and having her as my captain!

Libs always has a positive attitude on and off the ice and is always encouraging us to play our best and have fun. Christina’s been a terrific captain, mentor, and pal — she’s upbeat, organized, involved, and has done a great job as a leader on the team. To my eyes, she does a great job of embodying what MGHA’s all about!

Freshmakers: Justin Sukup
Justin gives 100% and always has a positive attitude. He shows up every week and always supports the entire team. At the beginning of the season, Justin requested that everyone submit there favorite songs. He then created a team playlist that he plays before games, on the bench, and after games in the locker room. Justin is also incredible on the ice. He is a great team player and has contributed to many goals either as assists or on his own. He always plays the MGHA way and looks for the positive in times of frustration. In addition, Justin makes time to socialize after our games, encouraging camaraderie and supporting the league. Justin deserves the MGHA award!

The Heartthrobs! Maddy McKeown
Maddy is always fun, fast, and fabulous! Maddy is a wonderful captain, teammate, and all-around human. They communicate openly with our team, and other captains. They celebrate the accomplishments of their leaguemates, and advocate for equity on and off ice. They’re a wicked defender, and truly embody the MGHA way by adjusting their level of play, and encouraging safety and inclusion.

Jurassic Puck: Anna Johnson
Anna always has a positive attitude on and off the ice. On the ice, Anna uses her knowledge from coaching the D7 Oregon Dread Pirates team to propelle herself on the ice with knowledge and skills that she used to help her teammates. Anna is a talented baker and enjoys providing treats to her team. She is always prepared, organized, and willing to support her team and friends with whatever they ask of her. She truly embodies what it means to be the MGHA Way.

Anna is fantastic and lovely and always at the rink even when she can’t play. She’s made real strides (ha) in her confidence and play and is an excellent team player!

Goth Darn It! Joe Stella
Gene is our team’s biggest cheerleader. He’s always willing to help, offering advice, and volunteering his time. His passion for the sport, the team, and this league is awesome!

Blue Screen of Death: Laur Rivera
Laur is not only a fantastic goalie, she leads us through so many fun games. Laur showed us a ton of skating skills and made skating fun. Her best team chant so far has been be gay, have fun, stay safe. Sounds very MGHA to me. Too bad she isn’t coming back next year 🙁

Laur has been an amazing captain, answering all questions with patience and humor, encouraging new and old players, and being there for everyone – in hockey and in life. She is positive and passionate in her leading from the goal. I want to be like Laur when I grow up!

Best Goalie and mentor I’ve met so far!

Man, goalies are weird and I think this one is defective. She keeps telling the other team to shoot on her. Laur gets really excited when someone scores on her and is always the first one to fish the puck out of the net and give it to a skater when it’s their first goal. When she skates out it’s so cool. I remember watching her score and wow she’s like a hockey Swiss army knife.

Just Ice: AJ McGuire
AJ brings a positive attitude to the locker room every week and I love sharing the bench with them. They can be counted on to make smart plays on the ice and helped me learn to play defense!

Additionally, despite injury, AJ came to our games, acting as Gate Guardian, offering energy and support to any that need it. The gung ho nature and generally just affable nature that AJ brings with them has a welcoming effect in the locker room and for the MGHA as a whole. AJ takes it all the way!

Squirtle Squad: Sophie Manak
Sophie’s always fun in the locker room and on the bench and she plays a good MGHA game.

Sophie not only brings her best self to the team and on the ice, she also finds encouraging ways to support our team at every game! She strives to make sure everyone is having a great time and that we’re all on the same game page!

Sunny Defense: Collen Kenney

Colleen has been a great teammate to play with in her first year in the MGHA. She stepped up from the beginning to play center, and has always been receptive to feedback and constantly looking to improve. On the ice she plays inclusively with our team working to make good plays, and on the bench she’s very spirited and supportive of her teammates.

Rubber Puckies: Bri Buhr

Bri always has a positive attitude on and off the ice. In the locker room they always provide a good pregame pep talk and make sure everyone is doing good! On the ice Bri is the best line mate who is always there to set up the perfect plays and the bench would be silent without her AMAZING cheers

Bri exemplifies MGHA hockey each week, both on the ice and off. She is always encouraging teammates and brings a smile to everyone she interacts with. She gives it her all on the ice, strives to improve each week and picks up fellow teammates when they are struggling. Her positive energy and playful sense of humor makes it truly a pleasure to have Bri has a teammate!

Bri is a positive force of nature. Her encouraging cheers and funky dance moves always makes games extra fun

USA Hockey Registration

For liability reasons, all MGHA players must register with USA Hockey. Registration covers one year of play (September 1 to August 31).

IMPORTANT: You will NOT be allowed to step on the ice for skills clinic, practice, scrimmage, game, etc., without being registered with USA Hockey.

How to Register with USA Hockey

  1. Go to:
  2. Click the red “REGISTER NOW” button.
  3. For Registration Type, select “Ice Player/Coach.”
  4. Complete the form and include payment.
  5. You will receive a registration confirmation email with a confirmation # and bar code. Please enter your confirmation number on your account.

(Note: If you play in more than one league, you only need to register with USA Hockey once per season.)

Email with questions or concerns!

2021-2022 MGHA All the Way Award Winners

Here are your 2021-2022 MGHA All the Way Award Winners and the nice things their teams had to say about them.

End of the Rainbow: Sonny Graves
Watching Sonny’s debut as a goalie has been lots of fun and impressive. They always have an upbeat, positive attitude and their attitude is contagious. Sonny embodies what the MGHA is all about: the pure joy of playing the game of hockey in a friendly, positive, and supportive environment. They inspire me every week to be and do better. It’s a pleasure to be Sonny’s teammate this year!

The Necromancers: Mar Gosselar
Mar has been a phenomenal presence on the team, promoting team unity, compassion, and excitement. They’ve made our text chat a wholesome place and promoted a culture of caring for your teammates.

Skyfall: Peter Jones
Peter is our team cheerleader.  He always makes everyone feel like they have done their best. Peter has a positive, teamwork attitude that just makes people feel good! Whether from his kind words in the locker room, his silly “Get ‘em!” yells from the bench, or his screams & giggles on the ice when he wipes out, he is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face! Peter makes hockey fun and the overall MGHA experience special and memorable!

Green Eggs and WHAM!  Christy Churchill
Special message from Abby – I can’t think of anyone more well-suited for this award than my sibling, Christy. Their upbeat and positive attitude, even after a loss, was a critical fixture on our team. Throughout the season, they went out of their way to provide positive feedback to many members of our team after each game – they managed to observe individual players while in net AND make some wicked saves. In addition, their tremendous improvement over the season was inspiring to us all. Congrats, Christy, you deserve it!

Slippery When Wet: Bri “Fitzie” Fitzgerald
Fitzie always brings positive energy to games. From their willingness to play whatever position, to their friendliness to every teammate and sub who entered our locker room, to their attitude of “I feel like I have to sample the stick breaking in my next song” after a stick-breaking injury, Fitzie is the embodiment of positivity, and well deserving of the all-the-way award.

The Harvey Milks: Shiny!
Shiny is always a friendly and positive presence in the locker room and on the ice. He makes everyone feel welcomed on and off the ice. Shiny helped lead our practices and always has encouraging words for other players. He keeps a positive attitude on the ice and always looks for assists. He plays inclusively, supports his teammates, and always encourages folks to join him for post-game beverages!

The Fanta-Sticks! Sarah Johnson-Mehrkens
Sarah jumped in to play defense for the first time while learning new skills each week, and has continued to support the team from the bench!
Sarah has been an amazing asset to The Fanta-Sticks! showing flexibility, team spirit, and commitment to growth and learning.  When she was injured and it was clear that her season was over,  she put on a helmet and joined us on the bench,  providing coaching, encouragement, and cheers.  Even though she’s not physically with us on the ice,  she’s still with us 100% and we couldn’t be happier.  Sarah is totally MGHA All the Way!

The Abominable Snowpeeps: Alex Krajek
As a new player this year, Alex has fully immersed himself in the MGHA. He subs for multiple games, plays hard each week, and takes to heart any advice offered. His growth this year is absolutely amazing!

Caution! Trisha Adamus
Tricia exemplifies team spirit. She’s our team mom, always bringing snacks and making sure everyone feels comfortable. Trisha has an infectious enthusiasm for the game and for the league. She’s always inclusive, always modeling good sportsmanship, and she’s just a joy to play hockey with – exemplifying the MGHA way!

Sauce: Ames Barker
Ames has done an amazing job this season of leading by example, both on and off the ice.
Ames joined our team and immediately stepped into the role of mentor and took the time each week to help players learn. They are unselfish with the puck and have made it their goal of the season to try to be the supporting player and go for the assist first and foremost so as to get new players their first goal(s). Numerous times they have taken on tasks for the team and been an absolute support. They embody the league’s definition of the MGHA way. Our team is that much better whenever Ames is there to go All The Way!

The Red Flags: Gene Zadzilka
Gene is our team’s biggest cheerleader. He’s always willing to help, offering advice, and volunteering his time. His passion for the sport, the team, and this league is awesome!

Black Holes: Christina Libs
Captain Christina brought the encouragement, organization, and dance energy that made this season extra good—she went above and beyond to manage the challenges of balancing teams in L2, provided great feedback from the bench and recognized growth in teammates of all skill levels, and was calm and caring as we navigated the great unknowns of the pandemic (and deep space). Her organization of the super fun pond hockey tournament was top notch. She’s the holiest of the Black Holes!

Magic School Bus: Alanna Friscino
Alanna is always positive, promoting and accepting individuality. Alanna has been a wonderful teammate during her first season with MGHA. She is always excited to be on the ice and supports her teammates and captains with thoughtful advice and enthusiasm!

Violet Villains: Erica Fry
Erica has been an exemplary player on the Violet Villains all season. She always has wise and calming words for other players, both one on one and between periods to the team. She’s a smart player, level headed, and makes any line she’s on that much stronger.

MGHA Masking Policy Update for after March 13th 2022

TL;DR After March 13th games, mask policy update:

  • ON-ICE masks move to recommended/optional (barring a steep increase in cases or changes in CDC/PHMDC guidelines for Dane County). 
  • Keep masks on in the locker-room and in other areas of the rink.

Watching cases drop and the county take its masks off, we want to carefully consider our policies with regards to masks. We want to protect our most vulnerable players, we want to watch what happens with cases over the next two weeks, and we want to give everyone a sense of what will happen moving forward while also considering our players who find it difficult to play with a mask on. 

Starting after the March 13th games, we will update our mask requirement to masks recommended ON-ICE ONLY. This means one more game for each team with masks required on-ice (March 6th and March 13th are split due to ice availability). This is similar to the UW-Madison, MMSD, and MSCR timelines. If you need or want to keep your mask on-ice after March 13th, please do so. 

We will keep masks on in the locker room and lobby areas and in the Eagle’s Nest when not eating or drinking. Locker rooms are enclosed and have 10-15 of us in close proximity. The lobby can get crowded and people have to move through it to enter and exit the building. Our most vulnerable players do not have a choice of avoiding the lobby like they do for the Eagle’s Nest.

We are all in different places regarding risk and masks, as demonstrated by the survey results below. Please respect everyone’s comfort level and follow our policies. 

We will be carefully watching the PHMDC Covid dashboard and hopefully watching cases continue to decline. We will reconsider this policy if there is a steep increase in cases and cases go back over 100 per week (that is the line where PHMDC put the mask mandate in place last summer). 

Further info:

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Thank you to the 97 of you who responded to this question and to those who will complete the survey over the next few days We will publish the full results next week.