“Sweet Spot,” by Mike Sugerman
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — You can’t blame people who reach Social Security age for skating through life.
And that’s what the Old Pucks do.
They’re hockey players.
“When I was born, World War II was still going on,” says Mike Krysko, 72. He may be in his 70s but the guys say he skates like a 60 year old.
The Old Pucks are men of a certain age, generally over 50, who make up a hockey league on Long Island. Twice a week, they lace ’em up at the Freeport Recreation Center.
“I’ve been playing hockey for 60 years,” says Vinnie DiFusco, a spry 72, who runs the league. “The guy next to you, he’s a retired fireman. He’s an idiot like me. When we first started playing, you didn’t have to wear helmets, right? You played goalie without a mask, right?” The guy next to me nods. “I’ve got more stitches than a baseball.”
Nick Gaudiosi is one of the young ones. He’s 60.
“It’s inspirational,” he says. When they get on the ice, their age goes away. “I’ve been playing since I was a kid, and this is the best hockey experience I’ve ever had.”
Little can keep them off the ice. Two years ago, Michael Brennan had a heart valve replaced.
“When you come out of the operating room and you can’t even walk, now you have a goal. And that was my goal, was to play hockey, never mind walking, which I couldn’t do,” he says. “The operation was in June, and I played hockey in September.”
High school teacher Michael Perna calls it the best two hours of his week.
“You work in a world where sometimes things just don’t make sense. And you come over here, no one is lying to you, no one is trying to get one over on you, and no one is hiding behind all the other nonsense. You get here, you get on the ice, and you are accountable for you and your teammates,” he says.
It’s the way they stay active, maintain their lifelong love of the game and have some laughs.
That’s the goal, anyway.