It only took a few twists of a screwdriver June 19 to end an era.
It only took a few twists of a screwdriver June 19 to end an era. The plaque of the Pittsburg Beaver Kings Ice Hockey Team was removed from the bar wall at Chatters, and that was that.
The team, part of the Imaginary Hockey League, never suffered a single loss. Team members believe the fact that they never set foot on the ice is probably a crucial factor in this unblemished record.
The team was founded around 10 years ago by Richard Lipka, Rebecca Viney and Kenny McDougle, all devout hockey fans.
“I’ve been following hockey for 60 years,” said Lipka, who just retired as a professor from the Pittsburg State University College of Education.
He and his wife, Nancy, plan to move back to New York State, and the other team members just felt that the Beaver Kings couldn’t survive without him.
“I think things just naturally have a shelf life,” said McDougle, another lifelong hockey fan who still has a second-grade school paper with a hockey sticker on it.
“Some nights we’d have two tables full of people attending, and other nights, nobody would come,” Lipka added.
The team met on the first, third and “rare fifth” Friday of each month to watch televised hockey games, talk hockey, etc. Most members were PSU faculty or staff.
“What surprised me was the number of single women who got involved with the team over the years,” Lipka said. “They knew they could come out, have a drink and fellowship, and not get hassled by any of the guys.”
McDougle gave the team its name, supposedly a combination of his favorite hockey team, the Los Angeles Kings, and a road-kill animal he passed on the way to the Pittsburg Family YMCA.
Other members, including Lipka and Chuck Killingsworth, have questioned the species of the dead animal, thinking it more likely that McDougle saw a woodchuck, but he remains firm.
“It was a beaver,” McDougle said. “I’d bet a raise on it.”
A team has to have jerseys, and a design was needed.
“We talked to Ray Baccura, a PSU faculty member, about having a logo contest in one of his classes,” McDougle said.
He and Lipka were judges for the contest, held in 2000.
A club trophy was also devised. The National Hockey League has the famous Stanley Cup, and the Pittsburg Beaver Kings had Stanley’s Cup, which is best left to the imagination.
Lynda Killingsworth was the winner of the trophy one year.
“I thought I was picking losers because I did not want to win that trophy,” she said.
Lipka, as final winner, will be taking it back to New York with him, along with a lot of fun memories.
“One year the Buffalo Sabres made the playoffs and we were here at Chatters watching the game,” he said. “In the door walked five guys, hazmat workers who’d been on a project in Columbus. They had been to every bar in Columbus looking for one that had the hockey game on, then they stopped at every bar between Columbus and Pittsburg, but nobody would switch on the game for them. They couldn’t believe it when they walked in Chatters and saw us.”
Lipka expects that he and his wife will be on the way by mid-July, and he’ll be reunited with his beloved Buffalo Sabres.
“I was an original season ticket holder,” he said. “I’ve also got a goal — I want to have a photo taken of Stanley’s Cup with the Stanley Cup.”
His wife will probably not be joining him in these pursuits. Lipka managed to get her to one hockey game many years ago, but she was horrified when one player smashed another in the head with a hockey stuck.
“Blood was pouring down the guy’s face, and Nancy said, ‘That’s it, I’m never going to another game,’ and she hasn’t,” Lipka said. “But, bless her, she’s supported me in this for 41 years.”