Playing Hockey Desert Style: U.S. Faces Canada at Kandahar
March 28, 2009
- U.S. military personnel at Kandahar face former NHL players from Canada
- Event was part of morale trip for troops
- 143d ESC soldiers joined U.S. team at Kandahar shortly after arrival
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan-Sgt. Francisco N. Aponte, 143d Expeditionary Sustainment Command maintenance noncommissioned officer, and Sgt. Sean M. Sloan, 143d materiel readiness branch, played with the Kandahar Hawks ball-hockey team in a game March 4 against visiting Team Canada at Kandahar Air Field (KAF), Afghanistan.
Aponte played hockey for eight years on both high school and college teams. While at Kandahar, he walked up to the rink as people were playing together, and they said they needed another player. "I played with other Americans," said Aponte, "who told me there was a team."
Sloan started playing hockey when he was four years old. His experience of joining the team in Kandahar was similar to Aponte's and happened just one day later. "I jumped in on a practice," Sloan said. "They asked me (at the end) if I wanted to play on the team."
Playing at KAF was a new experience for both soldiers. Sloan said, "I didn't even think they'd have a hockey rink here."
Aponte was also surprised. "You never thought you'd come to a desert and find a hockey team."
Former National Hockey League players comprised Team Canada and were visiting KAF along with the Stanley Cup on a morale trip for troops.
Even though they did not win, both Aponte and Sloan enjoyed their experience of playing against Team Canada.
"It was an awesome experience to play against Stanley Cup winners, Hall of Famers, and NHL record holders," said Aponte.
"That was a great experience," said Sloan. "Opportunities like that are hard to come by."
Spc. Hollyann Greenwood, 143d S1 administration specialist, volunteered to pass out certificates and marble goblets from the local bazaar as mementos to Team Canada after the game on behalf of the Hawks. Greenwood said that Aponte and Sloan are dedicated soldiers and did the best they could.
"Considering the team they played against," she said, "they did really good."