Lawmakers are gearing up for the 10th annual Congressional Hockey Challenge on Thursday with one major teammate missing from their roster.
Arguably Congress’ biggest hockey fanatic and a former professional hockey referee, Rep. Patrick Meehan is not slated to play. The Pennsylvania Republican is facing accusations of sexual harassment and using taxpayer funds to settle a misconduct case with a former staffer. He is not running for re-election.
The game pits a bipartisan team of lawmakers and congressional staffers against lobbyists at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia, where the Washington Capitals practice.
“It’s another one of the great things that people don’t talk about enough that goes out on Capitol Hill,” Minnesota GOP Rep. Tom Emmer said.
Lawmakers are the reigning champs; they beat the lobbyists, 7-4, last year.
Emmer, who is playing defense, will be joined on the squad by House teammates including fellow Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen, Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley, New York Republican John Katko and New York Democrat Brian Higgins. Indiana Republican Larry Bucshon, a surgeon, is the team’s doctor.
Meehan told HOH in 2015 that the only time he gets to play hockey while in Congress is in preparation for this game, starting every year in January. He did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
“It’s a lot of fun. We better win,” Emmer said. “Especially when guys like Katko have to cover themselves in all kinds of balm in order to make the joints work. When we get up the next day, it feels a lot better when you have a win.”
Emmer said he’s been practicing with Katko and Paulsen, and he’s eager to see how Quigley and Higgins play.
Like other congressional sports events since June, the game will honor House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
The Louisiana Republican, who was shot during team GOP’s Congressional Baseball Game practice nine months ago, will drop the puck to kick off the game.
“I think it’s great that a Ragin’ Cajun [who] is not used to anything frozen is going to show up and try to navigate dropping the puck,” Emmer said. “He was asking Katko and me on the floor how to get on and off the rink.”
Also on the members’ team is Tim Regan, a House clerk, and staffers from the offices of Massachusetts Democratic Rep. William Keating, West Virginia GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin.
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The only woman on the team is Michelle McGann, executive director of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee. The head coach is Casey Fitzpatrick, legislative counsel for California GOP Rep. Mimi Walters.
“These young people that show up — the 20-somethings and 30-somethings — we got to work extra hard [to keep up],” Emmer said.
The lobbyists’ team includes Tyson Foods’ lobbyist Matt Mika, who was also shot at the Republican baseball practice.
Others include representatives from UPS, JetBlue and Google. The head coach is Jack Way of Arc Aspicio. The team’s only woman is Laura Wooster, who works for the American College of Emergency Physicians.
The game raises money for the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program, which helps wounded military men and woman by teaching them hockey. Two players from the program are participating this year, Mike Davis for the lawmakers and Joe Bowser for the lobbyists.
Proceeds also benefit the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Fort DuPont Ice Hockey Club. In 2017, the game raised $120,000. Tickets are $10.