BURLINGTON, Mass. - "Keep the elbows down!"
Boston Bruins Foundation Executive Director and Bruins alum Bob Sweeney recently traded in the stick for a whistle, and couldn't stop smiling while trying to keep wrongdoers in line during an intense game of street hockey in Burlington, Mass.
What you most likely didn't expect, is that the street hockey players were senior citizens and members of the Burlington Council on Aging.
Frank Vatrano and Joe Morrow also made the drive up to Burlington in order to support the Bruins and Lahey Health, who teamed up to hold the senior citizen street hockey clinic, promoting good health and exercise during the NHL's "Hockey is for Everyone" month.
"We do a lot of street hockey events and different events in the community," said Sweeney. "But, I think the thing that really resonated with me was the fun and the competitiveness, whether you are a kid or an adult."
Bruins Director of Health, Fitness, and Wellness, John Whitesides, led the senior citizens in a stretching regiment before dropping the puck on an intense half-hour game between two teams.
Whitesides, who manned one of the benches, was subject to some ribbing by special guest referee and good friend Sweeney.
"Sometimes, I had to make sure - maybe once in a while, they had too many men on the ice, but I let it go," said Sweeney. "Some of their players had their elbows up, but it was fun."
In the end, the goaltenders stole the show, playing to a 0-0 tie at the end of regulation. Ultimately, the game would be decided by a shootout, in which Morrow and his team prevailed over Vatrano and his squad.
Mike Runyan, who serves as a town selectman in Burlington, volunteered to wear the goalie pads for his team, making several key saves en route to a shutout.
"I thought it was a blast," said Runyan.
In true old-time hockey fashion, Runyan decided not to wear a mask. After the game, he was no worse for wear.
"Bob Sweeney showed me the puck, and he actually tossed it at me. A nice, squishy little puck, so I wasn't too concerned about it," smiled Runyan.
"I was more concerned about some of the high sticks than I was the hockey puck. They were going at it pretty good, weren't they?"
Runyan had a right to be concerned, given the effort and ferocity displayed by all of the participants.
One of those players, Carol Parker, was beaming with positive energy after the game.
"I had a wonderful time. Excellent!" said Parker, who began to reminisce on the last time she had picked up a hockey stick.
"I played street hockey with my children in the driveway, probably 40 years ago. Surprisingly, I thought I would be out of breath, but I wasn't! I had a lot of fun."
Chances are that Parker, Runyan, and the rest of the senior citizens who participated in the Burlington Council on Aging clinic won't forget this game for quite a while- and the neither will the Bruins.
Video: Bruins host senior citizen hockey clinic