Mike Sommers, chief of staff to Speaker John A. Boehner, is not Canadian.
But the top aide to the House leader from Ohio has a hard-to-explain love for the national anthem of our True North neighbors. He'll let it shine on Wednesday at the 2015 Congressional Hockey Challenge.
The charity hockey event pits members of Congress and Canadian members of Parliament against a group of Capitol Hill aides and lobbyists.
Sommers, who hails from the Chicago suburbs, said he developed an appreciation for "O Canada" after hearing it sung at Wrigley Field when the then-Montreal Expos came to town. It became a signature song for the Karaoke aficionado at parties and GOP retreats.
He once sang it in front of some 50 members of the Republican Conference with now-former Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla.
As a gift for his 40th birthday, Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer wrote a letter to invite Sommers to sing "O Canada" at this week's charity hockey game. Proceeds from the event benefit the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, a local organization that helps fund programs for inner-city youth to play hockey.
"I'm not Canadian; it's just a party trick," said Sommers, who has never sung at an arena before. "Hopefully I can parlay this into an invite to the Verizon Center."
This year's lawmaker lineup includes four Republicans from the Congressional Hockey Caucus: Reps. Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania and John Katko of New York.
“Being from the self-proclaimed ‘Hockey State,’ I am always looking for an excuse to lace up and get back to my roots, especially when it is for a good cause," Emmer, a former Boston College hockey player who succeeded Michele Bachmann, said in a news release. "I am excited to put politics aside, get back on the ice, and show the younger guys a thing or two.”
Two members of Parliament, Gord Brown and Rick Dykstra, will also join the congressmen on the ice.
For the lobbyist and staffer team, a number of GOP operatives will suit up, including Brad Dayspring, the former National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director; Jeff Burton, the former National Republican Congressional Committee deputy executive director; and former NRCC Digital Director Gerrit Lansing.
The game starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., the Washington Capitals' practice facility. Tickets are $10.
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