At the 9th Annual Congressional Hockey Challenge, It’s the Veterans Who Steal the Spotlight

Image Credit: Josh Billinson/Independent Journal Review

At a game billed as lobbyists versus lawmakers, the loudest cheers of the Congressional Hockey Challenge night came for the veterans who skated with them.

A sizable crowd funneled into the hockey rink just outside of Washington, D.C., on Thursday night to witness the battle between the longtime legislative rivals. When it was time to announce the lineups, they made themselves heard.

Both teams featured a member of the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program, and when their names were announced before the game, they were met with raucous applause. Members of both the lobbyists and lawmakers teams greeted them with thunderous stick taps, the hockey equivalent of a standing ovation.

Mike Davis, a United States Army veteran and captain of the USA Warriors standing hockey team, sported an Airborne patch on the sleeve of his jersey while skating with the lawmakers:

Image Credit: Josh Billinson/Independent Journal Review

John Albrecht, a United States Army veteran and alternate captain of the USA Warriors standing hockey team, scored the first goal for the lobbyists. He spoke to Independent Journal Review about the USA Warriors Program after the game:

“The USA Warriors Program is an ice hockey program for individuals that have sustained injuries, illness or have become injured overseas or during their military career.”

By providing a recreational and therapeutic experience, the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program hopes to benefit those wounded in defense of the United States by helping to train, educate, motivate, and encourage them through hockey.

In addition to benefiting USA Warriors, the game also raised money for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund supports nearly 300,000 students attending 47 different Historically Black Colleges and Universities, medical schools, and law schools. The Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club is an NHL-sponsored organization that provides inner-city youth with the opportunity to participate in organized hockey.

Congressman John Katko (R-NY) also spoke with IJR after the game:

“I had a blast! I felt like a little kid again, you know? In Congress, things are serious; it’s stressful at times. This is such a great release. And on top of that, we’ve raised $100,000 for inner-city youth sports and special hockey, so it’s great.”

Congressman Katko smiled on the bench as the lawmakers sealed their victory over the lobbyists:

Image Credit: Josh Billinson/Independent Journal Review

Rep. Katko didn’t score any goals in Thursday’s game, but he did get physical with the lobbyists while battling for the puck. “I’m big and slow so I mix it up in front of the net, that’s what I like to do,” said Katko, adding, “I’m 54 years old, still lacing [my skates] up. What else more can I ask for?”

Katko was joined by some of his fellow Congressmen, with Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) taking the ice alongside him. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) was sidelined with an injury and opted to help coach the team from the bench.

Congressman Paulsen looked down the ice as he skated to the bench after a hard-fought shift on the ice:

Image Credit: Josh Billinson/Independent Journal Review

Showcasing his game face, Congressman Meehan was all business while waiting to get back on the ice:

Image Credit: Josh Billinson/Independent Journal Review

The lawmakers’ team was rounded out with Congressional staffers, with the exception of Canadian Members of Parliament Gord Brown and John Brassard, who made the trip to help defeat the lobbyists.

The game was a nail-biter, with the score going back and forth throughout, but the lawmakers finally broke through with four unanswered goals in the third period to seal a 7-4 victory over the lobbyists.

The lawmakers posed for a photo with the Congressional Hockey Challenge Cup after their 7-4 win:

Image Credit: Josh Billinson/Independent Journal Review

While lobbyists may think they have some power over the lawmakers at work, the lawmakers reign supreme on the ice.

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