In Serious Need of a Hockey Fix


If you are anything like I am, at Day 66 in this Lockout Sideshow, you have got to be SERIOUSLY craving some hockey. Thankfully, being the hockey fanatic that I am, I have found just the thing.

Team Bud Light playing at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

Credit: Tasha Meares

While most of you are well aware of the Florida Everblades that play in Estero, Florida at the Germain Arena, that is quite the drive for some of us here in Tampa. However, never fear…there is honest to goodness hockey right here in town!

Every Saturday night, there is indeed hockey at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

Many of you know the Ice Sports Forum because it is the Official Training Facility of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Ice Sports Forum has 2 NHL Regulation Rinks that are utilized by USA Hockey for numerous events; as well as, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Training and Development Camp.

However, Saturday nights at the Ice Sports Forum are occupied by a Beginner’s Plus Hockey League.

Now some of you may be thinking, “What kind of hockey am I going to get at a hometown rink?” Well, I can assure you that these guys play with just as much heart as any Stamkos or St. Louis you will come across.

When asked about his experiences playing in the Beginner Plus league, Michael Anthony, who plays for Team Bud Light, had nothing but positivity.

"I started playing as an adult, and it makes me feel like a kid. When I am on the ice, inside the glass…all the problems of the world that come with being an adult go away for 3 periods.”"

Recently, Michael and the rest of his team got the opportunity to play on the ice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. As you can imagine, it was quite an experience.

"It was just amazing playing at the Tampa Bay Times forum. Playing on that ice was an incredible feeling; I think I had a smile on my face all week long. I really hope to experience it again soon. Hockey is a big part for me and my family (we attend every lightning home game), I just wish I had stepped on the ice 30 years earlier,” said Rotem Dayan."

I think, maybe more importantly than anything, good, old-fashioned hockey breeds teamwork and leadership more than anything else.

I asked John Maruca about what playing hockey here meant for him.

"I enjoy playing on Bud Light more than any other team in our league because I feel there is a sense of teamwork and work ethic greater than any other team I’ve played for.”"

Michael Anthony holding the Stanley Keg, surrounded by his teammates on Team Bud Light.

Credit: Tasha Meares

The one thing I am absolutely certain of is that his pride in his team is unmatched.

"“Bud Light might not always have the best team every season, but the level of teamwork, skill, and fundamentals have been the core of the team since the beginning. I credit it to the team’s first coach Bobby Wilcox. His positive coaching methods, along with his ability to bring out the best in people have been the foundation of that team, and still continue today. I always feel a greater sense of pride when I wear that jersey, and I think it ups my game that much more. As players, we get switched in and out of teams frequently each season, but I am very glad to be playing on Bud Light this season, and hopefully will help them repeat as Keg winners this season. Win or lose, Bud Light is a cut above the rest!” he said."

As you can see, these guys look forward to getting out on that ice and getting the puck into the net. The competition can get fierce, but it is all in good fun. Much like a Lightning game, this is a place where young and old alike can enjoy themselves and take in one of the greatest sports ever played.

There are many more teams in this league that join the defending Stanley Keg Champion Bud Light. Whatever your hockey desires may be; whether it is fast skaters, good puck handlers, or some sweet goals, there is a team here for you.

So, if you find yourself at home on a Saturday night looking for something to do, you know where you can find this hockey fan.

One thing I have found to hold true throughout all of my years as a hockey fan is this: Where there is hockey, there is heart. Where there is heart, there will always be a good time.

If you are interested in playing, or just want to know when you can catch a game, you can visit the Ice Sports Forum website or e-mail them at