Due to some right-place/right-time dynamics I was able to participate in the “Seattle” Draft Tournament this year. I actually grew up in the Seattle city limits (Queen Anne neighborhood, if you must know) for the most part, so having the greater Bremerton metropolitan area referred to as “Seattle” kinda hurts my ears… But yeah, basically Seattle.
First of all. Traffic. Even though I know there is a lot of traffic in the Seattle area, I still did not plan ahead well enough to get to the venue on time without some struggle. I was staying with friends in the Magnolia neighborhood which is a good distance from Bremerton. I had been planning to a) take an early ferry or b) drive around Tacoma earlier in the day and find other ‘Draft Family’, but I did not realize how early that would have to be to work. For the first weekend of summer, on a Friday, ferry lines were two to three hours long. The drive time from Seattle to Bremerton, a paltry 60 miles, was THREE HOURS of all red lines on the Google maps. I punted and parked the car in downtown Seattle, then hit the Bremerton ferry as a passenger.
*Side review of the Washington State Ferries: The ferry has a decent selection of beer and wine for reasonable prices, but after you buy a can of delicious Elysian beer and some food, you must stay in the galley to consume the alcohol. The galley at this point is assholes to elbows with people standing up drinking beer and wine for the duration of the 60-minute sailing. Road weary commuters on their last commute of the week. Would it kill them to have a slightly larger, possibly outdoor, drinking area?
While on the boat I put a message out to the Draft Family asking if anyone could pick me up at the ferry terminal while on their way to the Draft Party. Someone replied, and the person who picked me up ended up being my goalie, although that hadn’t been decided yet. He picked me up with his teardrop trailer attached to his SUV. He was ready for a long night which involved sleeping in said trailer in the rink parking lot.
*Side review of sleeping in teardrop trailer in rink parking lot as told by drunken goalie the next morning: don’t remember anything.
The Draft Party was pre-func’ing and lit af when I arrived. April and Uncle Baberz were there to greet the Draft Family as we arrived. Being that I lived in Seattle for so long, I saw a few people from the Seattle hockey scene that I hadn’t seen in years, but it was a lot of familiar Draft Family. There was a large contingent from the Tri-Cities, a collection of three small-medium cities a few hours east of Seattle, over the mountains and down near the Oregon border. The venue itself was really a great size for the group, and had the best selection of draft beers available for use with the drink tickets that I’ve seen at any Draft Party.
After the standard half-hour wait for “that person”, aka the late goalie, the Draft was underway. The theme this tournament was late-‘70s and early-‘80s arcade games, with the six appropriated games represented being closely resembling (but not the same as) Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Pole Position, Q*Bert and Space Invaders. After going through the “Portmantopia Process” the names were changed to Drafteroids, Draftey Kong, Draft-Man, Draft Position, D*Bert and Draft Invaders to protect against any copyright infringements and costly lawsuits. They also made six youth jerseys that were auctioned off with silent bidding though the weekend, raising around $1000 for a kid’s cancer charity. April and Uncle Baberz ended up on Drafteroids, while Nick (and myself, Mr. Irrelevent, the last person selected in the whole draft) ended up on Draftey Kong. I don’t know how late the festivities ultimately ended up going, although from the stories I know there were some late nights. I had to catch that last ferry back to Seattle at 11:40pm.
For our first game everyone showed up, and on time! Of course, we team-chugged like champions at the Draft Party and didn’t have to play until 1:30pm. We played a close game but lost by one goal to Draft-Man. Both the Ironman and the Hockey God Captain America scored for their team in our 2-1 loss. We only had a one game break between each game, just long enough to undress, shower, drink three beers, eat something and put the costumes back on.
We won our second game against Draft Position 3-1 which included an empty net goal scored when everyone thought play was stopped for some reason, but the ref dropped the puck, told us to play, and our center then started to skate down the ice and eventually dished it over to someone else who scored. We were winning anyway and the score was 2-1 so it wasn’t a huge deal but it was something that you just don’t see every day.
We played our third game of the day against Drafteroids. We were 1-1-0 and they came in at 1-0-1. This was a really close game as well. It stayed tied most of the way through the third until our goalie pulled off an amazing and quirky feat that he would be unable to do again if he tried 100 times. He is an adept seaman, good with handling his stick. As in, he is active duty Navy and a goalie who could probably snipe an empty net on a good day. On this drunken and mostly happy day, however, he cleared the puck straight into the facemask of an opposing fore checker, who probably still had their eyes closed when the puck then redirected back 50 feet at just the most improbable angle back into the net. It was awesome and I wish that the Bremerton Ice Center had LiveBarn.
So we ended the first day at 1-2. We had a great time and a lot of the Draft Family got together at a local Buffalo Wild Wings, chosen to satisfy Nick’s craving for “Buffalo Chips” which he says they don’t offer at the Canadian BWW locations.
We had to play Draft Invaders for our first game at 10:15am on Sunday. As mentioned, we were 1-2 and they were 1-1-1. It was a defensive battle (I had to even block shots) and we ended up in a 1-1 tie. Through some number fuckery we generally thought that we were going to play in the B final, which meant a two-game break. Well into this break, after four beers and some food, it was revealed that if Draft Position was able to beat D*Bert, we’d actually be playing posthaste against D*Bert in the C final. Well, of course that happened.
*Side review of D*Bert pant shells, brought to you by Preparation H Maximum Strength (shout out to Hockey God Captain America): Their team nickname of the Golden Diapers came about because of the unfortunate design of the pant shells looking like a blue geriatric patient wearing yellow Depends.
The nice thing about playing after too much beer in a short time is that the alcohol just meters into the system with a slow drip. We played a great game, as I remember one of the best in history, and we managed to pull out a 4-3 win. This was a lot of scoring for us. I even managed to finally get a goal in this last game. In the end we won the best of the available cups (there was no D cup this tournament). It was a really great time all around and I got to play defense with three awesome people I never played with before. We had a good “locker-room” vibe on our team and we all stayed after until they kicked us out, or until the beer ran out, whichever came first.
*Side review of the Bremerton Ice Center: They never run out of hot water if you let it run indefinitely trying somehow warm up a cold locker room. It will never make the room warm but it will make you unable to see across the room. Also, they sell you a cup of noodles for $1 at the concession stand, and that includes them making it for you. There is a nice pile of snow outside for packing coolers with, and they only nag you about bringing in beer if you drink it outside of the locker room.
All in all, a great time. It was nice to see April and Uncle Baberz at a tournament. They get to go home as A champions since Drafteroids ended up beating Draft-Man in the final. I got to experience the Dikembe finger wag from Uncle Baberz when he poke-checked the puck away from me, so I guess my life is complete now. It’s a bonus that I got a draft jersey setup that I will actually want and be able to wear at rat hockey. Out of the seven draft tournaments I have been to, it was definitely right up among my favorites.