Like the SHL’s other 11 teams, the Boston Badgers opened training camp this week. Thursday was Thanksgiving Day in America, and many of the players were spending the day apart from their families. In order to ease the sting for them, the Badgers held a team-wide dinner for the players and staff at Shawmut Arena.
“We thought it was a nice way to show our appreciation for how hard they work, and to get ready for the season ahead,” said GM Jody Melchiorre.
Little did Melchiorre know that the dinner would ultimately degenerate into a food fight, as the players blew off steam by flinging Thanksgiving staples at one another.
The team began the morning with a scrimmage, their first time on the ice at Shawmut since the end of last season. The scrimmage was intended to be no-contact, but the players ignored those instructions, gleefully throwing checks and body-slamming each other to the ice. Ds Jurgen Braun and Brody McCallan even traded punches briefly.
“The practices the last couple of days have been pretty rough, so I think there was some pent-up energy there,” said McCallan.
After the players showered and dressed, they gathered in the arena’s club level for a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast prepared by the team’s catering staff. The spread included turkey, ham, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and much more.
At first, the players and staff tucked into their plates with vigor. But then the players began chirping at each other about the scrimmage, and voices eventually grew louder. (It should be noted that beer was one of the beverage options.) Eventually, the disagreements turned physical.
According to sources, RW Rory Socarra was the first one to send the food flying, flinging a spoonful of mashed potatoes in the face of RW Jorma Seppa. Socarra denied that he started things, claiming that Seppa had chucked a roll at him. Regardless, it served as the starting gun for what one player described as “a scene straight out of Animal House,” as food and liquid quickly filled the air.
By the time the dust and gravy had settled, the players and the suite were caked in food. Team sources say that it took two days so completely clean the walls and tables of food.
The story probably would have remained inside the locker room, were it not for the fact that several players videotaped the melee and posted it on social media.
“Obviously, this isn’t what I had in mind when we decided to do this,” said Melchiorre. “But I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. This is a fun-loving and pugnacious bunch, which is usually a good thing. But I’d prefer if we directed that aggression at our opponents instead.”
New coach Kyle Barrow, meanwhile, enjoyed himself thoroughly. “Best Thanksgiving ever!” he quipped. “That first week back at practice is always tough for guys, and this was a good way to let those feelings out. Nobody got hurt and everybody had fun, so that’s a win in my book.”
Barrow had only one regret about the incident. “I got hit with cranberry sauce on my new blazer, and I don’t think that’s going to come out,” he said. “Next time we have a team dinner, I’m bringing a poncho.”
For his part, LW Lix Darnholm didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “I’m from Sweden, and we don’t have Thanksgiving,” Darnholm explained. “I thought maybe this is how you celebrate in America. Everyone get together to throw food at your family.”