Mayhem In The Mountains

We got to know the guys with GForce last year when they hooked us up with a video of Patrick Burke speaking at one of the Invisible Athlete forums they organized. Two of the GForce principals, Glenn Witman and Brian Kitts have since gone on to work with Burke as co-founders of You Can Play. GForce obviously works hard, and as evidenced by this terrific guest post from a player on the team, Bandito, they play hard, too. The GForce squad has participated in the Friendship Cup game held during Aspen Gay Ski Week for the last 7 years and Bandito finally hitchhiked made it back home, and files this report: 

Aspen Gay Ski Week 2012: host of the annual, much anticipated Friendship Cup. GForce vs. Aspen. Gay vs. Straight. An ice hockey bout which for the past 8 years has capped the festivities of a weeklong bonanza that makes P-town look like a Santorum rally in Iowa.

One week in a place where the low-carb beer flows like wine. Where the beautiful men instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. Where rainbow flags and drag queens don the main boulevard. Where shirtless men in ski boots walk hand-in-hand past Prada shops in this now resort-ified relic of the once rugged, untamed old-West. I’m talking about a little place called Asssssspen. 

A good-ol’ American sporting event (yeah, whatever Canada) where the gays temporarily ditch their designer ski Ugs and Apres-ski cosmos for beer and chips, and the local straights nervously try to maintain their burly, mountain machismo by defeating teh gheys. The Show in the Snow, Mayhem in the Mountains, El Luchado en Colorado, and a host of other catch phrases that don’t exactly rhyme or make grammatical sense.  

GForce arrived on the scene this year ready to play. With their first practice in months, only one day before the big game, they used their precious ice-time to shake off the rust and re-work the lines. Reigning champions of last year’s Friendship Cup, GForce seeks to engrave another year on the trophy that even Lord Stanley would be proud of. The team even restrained themselves from skiing Aspen’s world-renowned snow and partaking in Gay Ski Week’s late-night revelry to ensure their bodies were in primetime, performance condition. (Okay that last part is a lie, but nobody is perfect, don’t judge). And finally, to harness the pure energy of hockey’s ancestors, GForce played a light-hearted game of outdoor pond hockey the morning of the game. Returning to our roots is good for the soul.

Saturday night. 8:30 pm. A full house at the Aspen Recreational Center. The teams take to the ice, and the head ref, in the spirit of the match, sports a rainbow-colored lei under his helmet. The tension is so thick you could skate on it.

Glenn Witmann

Then the puck drops. Players whizz around the ice passing, shooting, and skating so fast you would forget this game is played at almost 8,000 feet. (Secret: thin air makes you skate faster!) Then BOOM!!! Aspen scores on a breakaway.

The home team crowd cheers and the Aspen players celebrate the first point of the game. Play resumes, but only minutes later, BOOM!! Aspen scores again. The first period ends 2-0. GForce, down but not out, returns to the bench to regroup.

The second period begins, and GForce is hungry. After an enthusiastic speech from the team captain, GForce returns to the face-off dot with some fire their eyes. Only 5 minutes in GForce tallies its first point. But they aren’t finished yet. Minutes later a turn over in the neutral zone leads to a fast 3 on 2 going into Aspen’s zone.

A brilliant tic-tac-toe between all three forwards is finished with a laser roof shot from the team captain. Aspen would go on to score one more goal on a power play before the end of the second period making it 3-2, Aspen. 

The third period begins and features the most evenly matched hockey of the night with scoring chances at both ends and goalies making mind-bending saves. After a handful of penalties and a brief spat between a GForce and Aspen player, the clock winds down to 60 seconds. GForce draws two penalties and with 10 seconds left in play, pulls its goalie.

This is GForce’s last chance. 10 seconds left, 6 on 3, with a face off in Aspen’s zone. This is when dreams are made or crushed mercilessly only to leave players reflecting over what might have been. The moments that immortalize winners in the record books and inspire such corporate slogans as “Just do it” and “Impossible is nothing.”

GForce wins the faceoff. A shot from the blue line gets pushed wide, but a GForce player passes the puck back in the front of the net. A massive scrum ensues. The goalie frantically tries to cover the puck and players of both teams push and shove while GForce tries to force the puck into the net. The referees lose sight of the puck just as a GForce player throws his arms in the air to claim GOOAAAALLLL!!

But is it in the net??? No one can find the puck. Time runs out as the players frantically look around the net. But still no puck. The referees finally clear everyone from the crease, and the goalie, lying motionless, face-down on the ice, finally rolls over only to reveal the puck a mere inch from the goal line.

Aspen wins in a true nail-biter, 3-2. The series: now tied at 4-4. This game couldn’t have been any closer. But not to worry, GForce will be back again next year to reclaim the coveted Friendship Cup.”

Thanks Bandito!  This is a pretty cool documentary on  GForce during an Aspen Gay Ski Week from a couple of years back. Next year’s is January 13-20. Book early!  

About Craig

Proudly serving gay hockey fans and players since 2010
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