Lawmakers beat lobbyists in seventh annual hockey challenge
© Chris Gordon

It was game seven Wednesday night at Kettler Iceplex in Arlington, Va., for the participants of the seventh annual Congressional Hockey Challenge, as lawmakers beat a team of lobbyists 3-2.

Former NHL stars Peter Bondra and Alan May along with military veterans and staffers also participated to raise money for academic scholarships. They helped level the playing field, but both sides brought serious hockey skills and a competitive edge to the event, with Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) scoring the winning goal.

“The thing is, he thinks he can still play, but it’s not true,” Bondra, a Washington Capitals legend said, laughing, as he trash-talked former teammate May.

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Tim Regan, from the office of the clerk of the House, played for years at the Northern Virginia Hockey Club, as well as on the club team at his alma mater, George Mason University.

He said the nucleus of hockey players on Capitol Hill has grown since the first year of the charity event, and each year has been more successful than the last.

“When you’re in the [locker] room, there’s never any of the political talk,” Regan said. “It’s like everybody goes back to before they were elected ... we’re all like teenagers.”

The tradition is on par with the congressional summer softball tournaments and Regan said he gets emails throughout the year from other hockey aficionados on Capitol Hill.

In the past, members have made a point to get together on weeknights to keep up their skills at the rink.

Reps. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Katko, chair the Congressional Hockey Caucus, a bipartisan group that hosts NHL stars every year to support academic scholarships and advocate for the sport.

This year’s game raised over $100,000.

“The greatest thing about this game is really that it’s for charity,” Meehan said.

“It creates the opportunities not only for inner city hockey, which is an opportunity most kids don’t get, but it also provides scholarships for kids in that program.”

Paulsen said the highlight of the game was playing alongside wounded warriors.

And Katko’s favorite part? Scoring a goal, with an assist from Bondra.

Hockey was the main attraction of the night, but it wasn’t the only one.

Mike Sommers, Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) top aide, serenaded the audience with a rousing rendition of “O! Canada” — his party trick, and birthday present.

“I turned 40 in January, and this is what my staff gave me for my 40th birthday,” Sommers said. “I’m a proud American that loves the Canadian national anthem.”

May noted that this year’s game was particularly competitive.

“This was a very tough one,” he said. “It took us, both teams, a while to score, it was a goaltender’s battle, heavy ice, humid day. The older guys on our team, it took them about 56 minutes to warm up before we actually got in there and started getting around the net and creating some offense.”