USA Hockey Magazine

November 2013

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HOCKEYOn The FRONTLINES PUCKS & PATRIOTS 2013 B Alabama Adult Team Creates A Hockey Connection With Troops Deployed To Afghanistan ack in the early 1990s, Scott Warnke was a youth hockey player in Huntsville, Ala. One of his coaches was John Maney, an active duty Army officer assigned to nearby Redstone Arsenal. Fast forward two decades and Maney, now retired from the Army, is still active in Huntsville hockey, coaching a Squirt team and playing with one of the area's many adult teams. Warnke is also now an Army officer, who recently returned after serving in his sec- Scott Warnke was more than happy to share the Hunstville Ice Cavalry jerseys with his fellow soldiers. 26 NOVEMBER. 2013 ond combat deployment in Afghanistan, this time as commander of an Armored Cavalry Troop based out of Ft. Stewart, Ga. One of Maney's adult teammates was John Warnke, Scott's father, who came up with the idea of changing the team name as a shout out to his son in Afghanistan, and the Huntsville "Ice Cavalry" was formed. John ordered special camouflage hockey jerseys and got some help modifying the U.S. Army's traditional cavalry symbol of crossed sabers into the team's new "Ice Cavalry" logo. "They took the Cavalry insignia and replaced one of the sabers with a hockey stick," Scott said. "It was super cool." Dad even managed to send a jersey to Afghanistan for Scott, who wrote that some of his fellow soldiers loved the jersey, especially his first sergeant, who was not necessarily a hockey fan. So several weeks passed and another care package arrived with another jersey. As any military person knows, it's a good idea to keep the first sergeant happy. Scott sent back a photo captioned: "Easternmost chapter of the Ice Cavalry Fan Club. Although there is no ice rink anywhere in Afghanistan, the Canadian military did USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM construct a floor hockey/roller hockey rink at one of the larger NATO bases. "When we were flying in and out of there at night, I'd go over there and see if they were playing," Warnke said. "That was about the only hockey they had over there." Warnke's first deployment to Afghanistan came in 2010 at a time when the rest of the world gathered in Vancouver for the Olympic Winter Games. As the Americans and Canadians battled it out for gold on the ice, halfway around the world in one of Afghanistan's southernmost provinces, Canadian and American troops stood shoulder to shoulder with a much bigger battle on their hands. Even then, hockey found its way onto the frontlines. "We missed the gold-medal game, but [the Canadians] kept getting updates through their chain of command," he said. "When they radioed in the final score, I was like, 'Holy cow, that was close.'" The Armed Forces Network would occasionally rebroadcast NHL games to some of the remote bases equipped with the right communications equipment. "The nice part was due to the time difference during the playoff run I could wake up early and catch the start of a game, and if there wasn't a big wind storm you'd get a pretty clear signal," said the diehard Boston Bruins fan. He gladly missed the clinching game as he waited for a helicopter to carry him away from the frontlines at the end of his deployment. "When I finally made it to Kandahar a couple hours later I was really glad that I missed that game," Warnke said of the Blackhawks' dramatic Cup clincher. "I was spared that one for my own sanity." N PHOTOS COURTESY OF John Warnke

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