Like Father, Like Son… Like Gordie Howe?

Winning: it’s something that the Laser Mobs have been happy to do on the odd occasion, but certainly have not felt the need to do on every…

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Meet the Laser Mobs. | Back row: Michael Fleischauer, Reegan McAllister, Martin Coutts, Rob Houle, Jordan Carson, Kyle Bartsoff, Brendan Coutts, Ignacio Haro (goalie). | Front row: Garson Law, Michael Goth, Philip Stack, Mike Chow, Tim O’Donnell. | Not pictured: Duane Boos, Irfan Chaudhry, Jaimy Miller, Anthony Reardon, Marcus Stack, Jenny Yip, John Younk.

Winning: it’s something that the Laser Mobs have been happy to do on the odd occasion, but certainly have not felt the need to do on every occasion. And no, that’s not a slight against the hockey team of fifteen or so years — they really have enjoyed just having the opportunity to play together! But given that the team is composed of mostly U of A staff and alumni, winning against the other teams that play in their division of Recreation Services’ Intramural Ice Hockey League has never been a primary goal. After all, as Philip Stack, the team’s centre explains, “the joke always was that our team got a year older every year, but the teams we were playing — because they were largely new students coming in — never got older.”

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With an older line at its helm, winning, or even scoring goals, was a rare occurrence during the 2015–16 and 2016–17 seasons. But things have been looking up for the team lately. “We’ve had a good recruiting year — I think that’s made the difference” explains winger Martin Coutts. And as Philip adds, “it’s like any university, it’s the quality of the students you recruit, but in our case, it was the quality of the hockey players.”

So where have the new recruits come from this year?

One was quite literally found walking through the halls of Lister Centre with a hockey bag. “Our team captain, Jordan Carson, said ‘hey, are you looking for a team?’ and our new recruit Kyle said ‘yup,’ and that was it” Martin recalls.

“But with me, it was more like, dad comes up and he says ‘so, do you want to play?’ and I said, ‘yeah, sure,’” adds Brendan Coutts. That’s right, the first year engineering student and Laser Mob defencemen also happens to be the son of Martin. And what’s more, Martin and Brendan are not the only father-son duo on the team. Philip’s son Marcus is also on the defence line.

“My dad convinced me that it would be — well, he didn’t have to convince me — it’s just a great opportunity to go and play hockey. And it was kind of neat to get to play with [my dad]” Marcus explains. And although not on the team this year, Philip’s other son Dante did play last year too.

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From left to right, Martin Coutts, Brendan Coutts, and Philip Stack.

So the addition of the younger players has brought a little bit of speed and a little more skill to the team. Martin easily admits that “the youth movement has really served us well. Because Philip’s right, we all get a year older, but the students we play they are all still 18, 19, 20 years old. And it gets tougher for us old guys every year.”

With two familial generations playing together, it’s hard not to see a little extra coaching take place on the bench. Marcus notes that “dad still has some recommendations, even though we’re both playing the role of players. He definitely has good advice for me, which I should probably take to heart a little bit more often on the ice.” Although, as Martin points out with a grin, Philip’s advice isn’t limited to his own son. “Philip’s kind of our unofficial player-coach. Let’s put it that way.” When asked if the recent wins could be in part attributed to said advice, Philip admits “no, I don’t think so at all.”

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Number Three (aka Philip Stack) shares some game insights with his teammates.

Despite the extra coaching, all four players point out that the team is just that — a team. Everybody contributes, and regardless of ability, everyone is cheered on. “We all recognize that everybody’s doing their best and working hard,” Martin says.

Brendan adds that the team is “welcoming, for sure” and it provides each of the players with “a great environment to just go out and to skate around, get some exercise, and just have a lot of fun.”

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The introduction of team uniforms last year has also helped to underscore that feeling of belonging, even if, as Brendan puts is “you can definitely tell the vintage of the players who picked them out.” Says Martin with a laugh, “makes us look like the old farts that we are! Well, most of us are.”

So although they may not always win their games, for these four players at least, it’s the time together that matters most. Because as Marcus says, “you get to play hockey with your old man, and for me, that’s really special.”

And Martin is right to add that now he and Philip “know what it’s like to be Gordie Howe playing with his sons. Not too many people can say that.”

Learn more about intramural spots by visiting the Recreation Services website.