By Steven F
Excited to bring you the first edition of Behind the Mask. Behind the Mask seeks to introduce the league to the wacky folks who suit up in pounds of gear and eagerly step in front of blistering wrist shots, the goalies of BTSH.
It is 7pm on an April Thursday and Dave G is traveling on an old school R subway car uptown from the World Trade Center to Canal Street. Dave is the goalie of the surging Dark Rainbows and referee for the league. However, today he is on his way to Chinatown for some dumplings and noodles.
On the subway he reminisces about how he started his career in sports broadcasting, calling play by play for minor league and college baseball teams. After ascending from the subway and narrowly avoiding a few cars crossing Canal Street and Mott Street, he mentions his brief stint as a traffic reporter before transitioning to a career in sales.
Finally seated at a small table at Deluxe Green Bao Restaurant on Bayard Street, Dave entrusts me with the order but politely asks that the food not include “pork or shellfish.”
Dave never played goalie, let alone hockey before when he was invited to play between the pipes for a Zog Sports team in 2014 commuting from Long Island to Randall’s Island for games. On this team he met Jake Tiner of the Sky Fighters, and learned how to stop shots wearing glorified brown pillows on his legs for pads. He caught the hockey bug, soon adding hockey to his Saturday routine subbing for MOFO teams. Tia L, captain of Dark Rainbows at the time, and sharp talent scout recruited the net minder for the 2017 season. “My goalie-ing has been an evolution,” he noted after taking the first bite of a slice of scallion pancake.
Over the Rainbow
Throughout our conversation one thing was clearly evident, Dave loves being a part of BTSH, especially a member of the Dark Rainbows.
The “moment we stopped caring about getting wins is when we started playing better. We just went out every shift wanting to compete, then we popped bubbly,” alluding to the famous episode where Dave sprayed the BTSH sideline with champagne after the Rainbows snapped an elongated losing streak. After that moment the Rainbows streaked to a Schlitz Cup appearance.
Adding that last year’s Schlitz’s Cup run was an exciting ride with a group of people “who actually enjoy being around each other,” he pushed back against people poking fun at the team for playfully shooting the ball around on Brett Heicher’s rooftop. Dave had a beer box on his left hand substituting as a blocker taking shots from his teammates overlooking the Manhattan skyline.
The Rainbows have a WhatApp chat where the team talks about the New York Times daily mini-crossword puzzle, make social plans and notes the shortcomings of Yetter, a forward on the team and average player.
Dave also pumps himself and his team up with the “Dark Rainbow Playlist” blasting from a wireless speaker that sits on the back of the net. What started as an accident, failing to remove the speaker after warm-ups, Dave may be the only goalie in the league that listens to jams during the game. Rainbow in the Dark by Ronnie James Dio is a constant on a playlist that has amassed to 140 songs. Fellow BTSH’er Mike D’s band the Nuclear’s have a song featured on the Playlist.
Strong playlists sharply contrast with how Dave approaches his other favorite physical activity, long distance running. While running half marathons, he listens to “nothing,” instead focusing on “the run.” He has participated in multiple half marathons and takes marathon training very seriously. “It helps stamina generally.”
Probably the most contentious moment of our Chinese meal was how Dave maintains his goalie pads. Dave keeps his goalie gear in the trunk of his car and treats the pads with Febreze spray and air fresheners, only airing the equipment out before games on Sunday. When he needed to upgrade his equipment, he scoured the internet searching for the right mask, finally finding a cage with rainbow designs and hunted down rainbow colored hockey tape. The tape, he explained not only represents his team’s name but also demonstrates support of pride.
Around the League
Dave looks forward to playing the Demons each year and is particularly excited that the teams are now in the same division.
If he could select three shooters from around the league to face in a shootout he selects:
- Will G, of Cobra Kai, “he is extremely quick, extremely sweaty,”
- LJ, of Cobra Kai, “is one of the stronger female players,” and
- Julie K, for redemption reasons, “she beat me in week one.”
When asked if there were other goalies in the league he likes to watch, he instantly responds, “we all get hard-ons for Jaime, he’s so casual about it.”
We discussed the physicality of the league and the treatment he receives from players when he refs games. He believes new players need to be educated that the league is a place to meet new people and hang out with her friends, and not a place relive old hockey glory days. However, an hour later and after a beer at Whiskey Tavern on Centre Street, Dave admitted that goalie fighting should be legal, challenging the interviewer of this article to a bout and would be open to fighting Brady C on the Butchers, “I don’t know why, he’s just the first one to come to mind that I want to fight.”
Away from the Courts
In addition to running half-marathons, you may find Dave at Peculiar Pub in Greenwich Village or Drop Off Service in the East Village drinking a Dogfish Head IPA, (he cannot decide whether he likes 60 minute or 90 minute better). A big fan of beer, Dave especially appreciates New York City’s own breweries.
Since 2014, each Monday night is dedicated to a group of friends that play board games. Each week a different friend hosts a game of Azul, Seven Wonders, Imhotep, Tokaido and Settlers.
For pizza, Dave peak pizza is DiFara’s in Midwood, and does waste his time on $1 slices or L&B Spumoni Garden deeming their upside down style “a waste.” For the perfect start to a day, a deli egg and cheese is normally the best breakfast. However, a whitefish salad bagel from Russ and Daughters in the Lower East Side is peak New York City breakfast.
The future looks bright for Dave and the Rainbows. Stop by and say hi to him on the courts, but shoot glove side at your own peril and stop arguing high stick calls, he is consistently correct.