Hockey team
The Lincoln Renegade Hockey team season is 17 games long, ending the last Tuesday in August. It’s an intermediate skill level league designed for a large age group. This is the team who won the championship last season. Pictured are, from left: (front row) Bill Watts, Greg McVey, Tobin Dahlberg, Zach Fallowfield, Blayne Rezac and Eric Burkey; and (back row) Greg Horacek, Nick Dahlberg, Matt Sobansky, Tom Grant, Jeremy Youngs. Photo courtesy of Greg McVey.

Racing down the rink with the clock running down at the hockey, the center receives the initial pass and skips it between two defenders to his forward for the game winning goal.

The hockey team celebrates and basks in the moment. Making it even more special, the game winning play was made by a father-son combo.

These are the types of moments a hockey league in Lincoln is creating by providing an opportunity for competitive games for all ages.

Lincoln Renegade Hockey is an adult recreational co-ed hockey league designed for athletes with intermediate hockey skills. It’s a non-check league, meaning you can’t hip-check an opponent into the penalty box. However, hockey is considered a collision sport, so there is still some contact.

Started in 2016, the league was founded and is co-owned by Greg McVey and John Rademacher of Lincoln, who also play during the season.

McVey and Rademacher originally jumped on the opportunity to create the league when the John Breslow Ice Hockey Center was created in December 2015.

Home of the Lincoln Stars, the ice at the Ice Box is replaced every summer. McVey said many people who played at the Ice Box throughout the year were traveling to play in the summer, so they jumped at the opportunity to create a league in Lincoln.

“There were a number of us driving to Omaha to keep playing,” McVey said. “Omaha league’s fun but an hour down and an hour back. When Breslow was going to keep ice up year round, we saw a need here in town.”

The league also allows for a large age range between players. With their insurance coverage, McVey is able to allow youth as young as 14 years old to play with the adults if they’re physically ready. He said they had a 14-year-old girl play goalie in the league, and her team won the championship. 

McVey also said there’s currently a 73-year-old gearing up for yet another season.

Besides the wide range of ages, McVey said this year’s league features 13 different father-son combos.

One of those combos is Aaron Impends from Lincoln, 36, and his son, Trenton, who have played on the same team for the last three years. 

Aaron and Trenton have gotten to know some of the other father-son combos and have even seen some familiar faces.

“One of them plays with my son on the high school travel team, and I’ve played with his dad for awhile,” Aaron said. “We’re playing against each other, and it creates a little competitive rivalry.”

In Lincoln Renegade Hockey’s first year, 48 athletes played. Just seven years later, the number of members is over 90, almost doubling where they started.

With the growing popularity, McVey said they’re looking to expand into two divisions next year instead of playing a round robin style tournament in the playoffs. He said he thinks part of the reason it’s popular is that unlike other sports, you slide when you fall, and there’s less instant impact.

Aaron said he could see himself playing another 20 years.

“I’ll play until I can’t play anymore,” Aaron said. “There’s guys playing right now in their 60s, and I could absolutely perceive myself doing it.”

MK4 0212 scaled - Lincoln Renegade Hockey provides opportunity to play competitive sports for all ages
The first game of the season is on April 26 at Breslow. Attendance is free for fans. Photo courtesy of Greg McVey.

McVey also said besides giving adults a chance to compete again, the league is meant for fun, and that means not a lot of practice time before the season.

“It’s affectionately called beer league,” McVey said. “Adults don’t really want to practice. They just want to play. We’ll have cookouts during the year with gatorade and beer and hotdogs in the parking lot. It’s a good time.”

Aaron said he is extremely grateful for the opportunity and thanks McVey and Rademacher after every season. 

“Most dads don’t ever get to play with their kids,” Aaron said. “They just get to watch them grow up playing hockey and cheer from the stands. It’s pretty special to be able to go out there and play semi-competitive hockey with your son. You think alike. You know what you’re supposed to be doing. You just have that father-son connection.”

Cody Frederick is a fifth-year student majoring in sports media, journalism and broadcasting while minoring in business administration and horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is from a small town in Northeast Nebraska called Winside.