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Best. Punch. Ever.

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There’s something unique about every city in the world, but no place has unique like Alaska.  When my uncle moved from New York, he had to have an NY parking ticket to commemorate his years there.

Ours wasn't nearly this "cherry".

Ours wasn't nearly this "cherry".

When I left Alaska, I wanted a couple of items to commemorate my time, too.  I’m still two items short of completing my mission.  One is a WLFHKY vanity plate from the Geo Tracker that my roommate and I spent $400 total dollars on and drove for three years (we left the car as a tip for our waitress on the way to the airport.  For real.  Title, registration, paperwork and all.  Thanks for the good service).

And second, for which I’d like to enlist the help of an Alaskan reader, if there’s anyway you can send me a placemat from Sea Galley, I’d be extremely grateful.  Our team ate pregame meal there for four years, and the mat lists everything you need to know about the state of Alaska, which of course we memorized as a part of our meal-time trivia game routine - if you were called on, you had to answer the state bird (Willow Ptarmigan), flower (Forget-Me-Not… I did), state gem (jade) and a million other things about the state that you weren’t aware it had an “official” one of (I had to google two of those three… embarrassing).

Also, as a mini-trivia question to those of you from Anchorage… what other facts are on the Sea Galley placemat?

*****

You know it's not my picture, cause this guy owns some crazy bike.

You know it's not my picture, cause this guy owns some crazy bike. But that's the highway.

The University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves do a rookie party like no other.  And I mean literally, because no other school has the option to drive you into the middle of the wilderness by a glacial river.  And let the record show that “drive you into the middle of nowhere” means stay on the Seward Highway for about 22 minutes from downtown, then decide that’s not “middle” enough, and continue on for two more unnecessary hours.

Here’s how the greatest punch I’ve ever seen got thrown:

Rookie party all starts back at the dressing room the day before the weekend, when the older three classes pair up, put the rookies in as many layers of sweatpants and sweatshirts and jerseys as possible, then stick them in the sauna while conducting a draft.  The sauna part is totally unnecessary, it’s just funny for the other guys cause the rookies need to leave the room for a bit anyways.

The oldest seniors get to draft the first overall rookie.  That lucky rookie (and everyone after) has to buy all the food and booze for an overnight trip for the three of you.  It’s about a 100$ hit, but after your rookie year the trip is free, so whatever.  The trick is to draft a rookie with rich parents so you can get steaks and good beer over hotdogs and Natty Light (those “are your parents rich” questions seem awkward the first week).

Upon your arrival in nowheresville, Edward 40hands is the first go-to drinking event of choice for most guys.

That’s when a 40 oz. beer is taped to both hands with duct tape, and can’t be untaped until both are empty.  It makes having to pee a difficult situation, so you better drink that second one quickly.

The night is highlighted by rookie olympics, which is essentially explained best by the sentence ”here, drink this, spin your head on this, run there, and drink that”.  The theme, if you’re still missing it, is that you drink a lot.

Billy Smith was a rookie (plays at Northern Michigan now) with Jolly (both born and bred Alaskans, which you can tell from a ten minute conversation with either of them), and neither of them tended to drink all that much all that often.  So chalk it up to that, cause these guys generally really liked each other.

I was walking by Smith when I heard him make a joke to Jolly.  Like a genuine, big smile, joke.  And while Billy smiled, Jolly pulled his left hand back, and in a smooth, natural, football throwing motion, punched Smith dead square in his mouth.  For no reason.

Wonder if that's the one Chad Anderson tried to ride?

Wonder if that's the one Chad Anderson tried to ride?

Smith fell back like he was about to make a snow angel.  Thinking there was gonna be trouble, someone went to get between the two when Smith bounced up, lips bleeding, smiling, and gave Jolly a big hug, then went on his way.  Happy drunk, huh?  End of event.  Nothing further.  It was the dudiest dude moment I’ve ever seen.

It’s the rugged Alaskan in them both.  Hell, I woke up my rookie year in a sleeping bag by a river – it had to be below freezing, maybe 7 a.m.  I moved my eyes, not my head (which was covered in frost), and there was a moose about 50 feet to my left.  This was my first month in Alaska, and my first “what the hell did I do to my life?” moment.  At least I didn’t get socked in the mouth, I guess.

Alaska.  Where dudes punch dudes near moose.  Now there’s a goddamn official state slogan.

Comments

21 Responses to “Best. Punch. Ever.”
  1. Sioux in the Cities says:

    I think this could be my all-time favorite post from you. Hilarious!

  2. JD says:

    Pretty funny story. We’ve all had those nights waking up in the early AM in some field and wondering wtf had happened. The fact you did this in Alaska, in near freezing cold makes it somewhat priceless.

  3. pat says:

    That sounds like the PALIN Honeymoon……them there moose hang on Palins wall

  4. Frank says:

    send me your address if you really want a placemat from the Seagalley…..I guess you must already have the collection of empty growlers from all the microbrews?

    I witnessed Matt throwing a good punch on Underwood last night, so your story was written in timely fashion and was probably just as funny…..I will let Jolly write the details….I laughed till I cried.

  5. Will77 says:

    Ahh Edward 40hands… doesn’t get much more college

    I’m curious as to the backstory of you waking up randomly in the outdoors… sounds like it’d be a good one.

  6. Griff says:

    Who are these mythical Alaskans who “don’t drink all that much all that often”. Every single person I’ve ever played with or hung out with from AK was batshit crazy and drank like a fish. Don’t get me wrong I love them and lived with a couple of them in juniors but they are all nuts, will do anything to have fun and their definition of fun is not the same as the rest of the worlds.

  7. Kevin Croxton says:

    I can confirm the story about the tracker being exchanged as a tip as I was there for that meal…..the service wasn’t that good and neither was the car. Good story though.

  8. jtbourne says:

    Crox, I was expecting you to comment… But on yesterdays article. Figured we may have differed on Davis?

  9. GBCK says:

    Tree- Sitka Spruce
    Fossil- Wooly Mammoth
    Motto- North to the future
    Crox, easy on the Tracker it was worth millions if not more in sentimental value.
    I’m seriously gonna be late to my game because it took me so long to remember North to the Future. I have 20 mins. No worries I dominate kangaroo court.

  10. Jolly says:

    How about the rookie olympics that night. The only thing I remember before promptly passing out on my feet was Gilly flashing by me and spear tackling Robo into the rocks. Craziness. To validate Frank’s post, yes I did get Undy quite good last night but he had it coming. He had already spear tackled me twice these past few weeks and went for number three…I was ready for him this time lol. Also, I think a kudos should be given to the ‘Manchild’ Dustin Molle for doing the Edward 40 Hand’s in 4 minutes flat that night. I can’t say that I’ve seen anything close to that exhibition of drinking prowess since.

  11. Kyle says:

    Odd that, being in Alaska, the go-to game wasn’t Moose.

  12. jtbourne says:

    First, I love the ex-teammate contribution on this entry. Second, moose (fittingly) was huge at our house. I still claim to be DOMINANT at it. Again, that read DOMINANT.

  13. Not Lee Green punching Brett Arcand-Kootenay in the locker room? Or maybe you didn’t see that one … or is that one an out of bounds topic?

    No doubt that story wouldn’t be as good an entry as the one above since Lee was actually arrested and faced felony charges for a while.

    I had a couple of buddies up here around the same time who also thought it was great fun to exchange serious punches in the name of drunken fun … thank god they were always basically forehead shots … I remember more than a few knots on my forehead.

  14. Officer Koharski says:

    Man that’s a great story. I can’t understand the ‘punch me in the face’ mentality when you’re drunk. Sure, I’ll go punch for punch with a friend but fuck man, in the face? I’ve never been drunk enough to allow that.

    Also Manchild is one of the better nicknames you can ever assign someone. Was he a big unfortunate looking chubby dude with a baby face?

  15. Far North says:

    The risk of funny stories is that a reader might decide to ask some serious questions . . .

    You’ve written elsewhere that you didn’t drink in juniors. But when you got to college, rookies were apparently required to get drunk as part of the team bonding experience. Yes, I’ll say “required” — the weekend involved duct tape and peer pressure!

    Weren’t there ever guys who had real objections to drinking? If so, how were they treated during the rookie party? In general?

    You made the transition from non-drinker to someone who mentions alcohol regularly. (I’m not accusing you of alcohol abuse! Just pointing out the references.) Maybe lots of students, athletes or not, make a similar transition. But do you think that the hockey culture encourages more than the “typical” amount of college drinking? And if so, why? Why risk dulling your talent? I’m an idealist — if I were an elite athlete, I doubt I’d drink at all, just because of health/competition reasons.

    (And I’m a mom, too — so of course I’m horrified by the thought of you guys passing out in an icy, isolated field!) Hey, be careful out there.

  16. Pat says:

    Hey Justin,

    I love your blog. It’s nice to get another insiders perspective on living the dream. I don’t play anymore but I did play through high school in Wisconsin and a former teammate and classmate, Jake Dowell, is now fighting to earn a regular spot with the Blackhawks. Anyway, I have worked at Mariucci Arena for the last 5 years while going to school so I have probably watched you play many times without knowing it until now. I was wondering, if you wouldn’t mind sharing, what are some of the things you remember about each road arena in the WCHA? I love the distinguishing factors each building has and I was hoping you could give a player’s perspective on them. No rush necessary, I’ll read whatever you throw out there.

    Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this. You clearly have a good thing going with your writing.

    Best of luck and take care.

    - Pat from behind the zam doors at the Mooch

  17. Mark Elliott says:

    Great story, still loving your blog. A little off topic (ok a lot) how about a little shout out to our Saskatchewan Roughriders host the western finals against Calgary(insert spit here) next sunday. Mitchell got tickets, i never. Remember your ansestial roots man !!! Take care.

  18. lazydaisies4u says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now, love your stuff Justin. Good luck with everything!
    That Billy Smith, he’s a speedy guy, eh? I watched him play for two years at Northern Michigan.

  19. jtbourne says:

    He skates like lightning on acid. With ADD. It’s crazy.

  20. StripesGuy says:

    Justin,

    I am flying into Anchorage in December and driving to kenai to ref some hockey (NAHL Kenai Brown Bears). What are some must-dos while I am up there?? I tired to find an email for you too keep this off the board. If you can give me some must do-s I can try and grab your placement. Feel free to send an email if and when you have time and delete this comment.

  21. Beer:30 says:

    @ StripesGuy

    Alaskan local here. If the weather is good making the drive from Anchorage to Kenai is spectacular in the winter in and of itself. Take a camera. If you’ve got money to blow hit the Double Musky in Girdwood on the way down or back. There will be a line but the food and completely random stuff hanging on the wall is worth it. Get an AWD car with studs if possible. Road conditions can get really bad if the snow flies. Delete this one too if it’s too off topic. (OK it’s in another zip code)

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