Ridgefield Press, Connecticut
Story by Tim Murphy
Ben Shaw likes to call his longtime defensive partner his son.
That player, Dave Kenes, is 68 years old.
“He calls me dad,” said Shaw.
Shaw will be 70 this October. But he has no intention of stopping the activity he calls his passion: Playing competitive ice hockey.
A longtime Ridgefielder, Shaw is one of the charter members of the Danbury-based Old Crabs hockey team. The team, which is comprised of players in their 50s and 60s, plays once a week against area opponents and also takes part in several yearly tournaments.
“Sometimes I say to myself, ‘What the heck are you doing,’ ” said Shaw. “But then I think about how much I would miss the camaraderie and the friendship and the game itself. I’m just not ready to hang up my skates yet.”
At least with the Old Crabs and their opponents, Shaw is playing against guys roughly his own age, even if he is the team’s oldest player. But two mornings a week at the Winter Garden he skates in a men’s league that has some players still in their 20s.
“That’s when I wonder if I’m crazy,” he said. “The speed of the game is much faster. But those younger guys don’t want me to quit. They say that I’m an inspiration to them.”
To realize how long Shaw has been playing hockey, consider this: He calls himself a late bloomer.
“I only played my last two years at Mamaroneck High School,” he said. “I skated with the team as a sophomore in practices but I wasn’t ready to play yet. I had to get better.”
Shaw played football for two years at Hillsdale College and also helped form a hockey club team. After graduating in the early 1960s, Shaw stayed connected with hockey by playing in adult leagues and coaching youth teams. In the late 1970s, one of those adult teams, the New York Commuters, formed a travel team and began playing in tournaments throughout the Northeast and Canada. The team changed its name to the Old Crabs in the 1980s. Several of the players, including Shaw and Kenes, are still there.