The hows and whys of summertime hockey celebrations.
By Hannah Wallace

With the heat and the annual pre-July Fourth Slap Shot Party, every summer we give thanks to hockey for its icy salve and fun-loving crazies. This year, as though we weren’t grateful enough, that nightmarish accident at 301 and I-75 threatened to close off access to the rink altogether. Miraculously, it looks like things there were quickly patched up pretty darn well (kudos, fellas). Now things are really looking up: Rumored changes at the rink and a chance to create a new party tradition give me even more reason to thank the hockey gods.

PUTTIN’ ON THE FOIL: The Hanson brothers prepare for another Slap Shot Party.

Best news first: Rumor has it Ellenton Ice & Sports (& School & Church & Rodeo) aims to have a sports bar in its old Beef O’Brady’s space by late fall. We used to be able to drag our bags across the lobby and plop down for wings and pitchers after a game, but that restaurant space has sat sacrilegiously empty (or, more recently, filled with preschoolers) for more than two years now.
And speaking of sacrilege, the complex’s fallow roller hockey rink was recently occupied by some kind of church. But rumors also say that Braden Chandler, owner of Big Kick Indoor Soccer and my Noisemaker in Sarasota Magazine this month, will soon expand into the roller-rink-cum-house-of-worship, laying down turf for more soccer, plus indoor football and lacrosse. Not only is this great news for the athletic culture of the place—we’d love to recruit more soccer chicks for Ms. Conduct—but Braden’s management is top-notch (I know firsthand from his eight-month-old indoor soccer facility off Whitfield). Ellenton athletes would love to celebrate good management.
And celebrate we shall (not that we wouldn’t anyway). Four years running, the Slap Shot Party is the kind of party you planned to have as a grownup when you were a senior in high school: A big house in the woods in Thonotossassa equipped with a pool table, a bar and a whole-house entertainment system playing cult hockey classics Slap Shot and Strange Brew on multiple TVs throughout the evening. Also: illegal fireworks. People plan for it the whole year—the Saturday before July 4. It doesn’t even need invitations or explanation. It’s legendary. What else would you expect from a couple whose last name really is “Danger”?
This year, CCB, Mrs. Harrible and I are again collaborating on a party of our very own. Last August’s (“First Annual”) Kegtacular at the Harribles’ house garnered a great turnout (a good percentage of which crashed on the floor) and a respectable number of outrageous stories still told around the rink. This year, Kegtacular II will be at our house. We know we can’t compete with the Dangers’ parties, but we can offer Wii and a Slip ‘n Slide, and hopefully that’ll be enough to gain momentum for an annual tradition. I dream of some vague acquaintance asking mid-January, “So, when’s Kegtacular this year?”
OK, perhaps it’s the usual paranoia, but I sense some Puritanical scoffing in my direction. Try to understand: In my childhood, the adults (most of them career actors and stagehands) told stories about these kinds of parties. As far as I’m concerned, this is how grownups are supposed to act.
Or does this sound like a good time to you, too? Want an invite? Let me know!
Frankly, it’s too hot outside not to blow off a little steam.