Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 21, 2008
Flying Fathers cheat, win
Hockey-playing priests raise money for charity
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The legendary Flying Fathers, an internationally famous team of hockey-playing priests, are again visiting central Alberta to help rural communities raise funds for charities.
They are currently playing a number of hockey games in Rimbey, Wetaskiwin, Lacombe, Grande Cache, Edson and Drayton Valley Jan. 15-24.
Hijinks and hockey
The Flying Fathers, who are the Harlem Globetrotters of hockey - a combination of hijinks, entertainment and high quality hockey - are the brainchild of the late Father Brian McKee, a Moncton priest, who formed the team in 1962 to raise funds for one of his altar boys who lost an eye in a hockey accident and needed hospital funds.
They have been flying high ever since, playing all over Canada, the United States and Europe to raise funds for many charities and worthwhile causes. They last played in Ontario to raise funds for the Gretzky Foundation. This time in central Alberta they are raising money for causes such as kids in sports, Our Lady of Victory Camp and World Youth Day.
The Flying Fathers have played close to 1,000 games in the last 45 years and, amazingly, they have won most of them. The secret to their success is talent and trickery.
In addition to being skilled hockey players with minor league and junior experience, the Fathers are also experienced cheaters who will pull any trick to make sure their fans are having a good time and that they win the game.
"We tend to win a lot because we cheat," confirmed Father Paul Moret, the pastor of St. Angela's Parish and the only priest from Western Canada on the team.
"There are all sorts of things that we do to cheat, to get some cheap goals."
Their last tour of Alberta was in 2001. Then, they defeated the Edmonton Oilers alumni and Media All Stars 14-5 through a combination of hockey skills, comedy and, of course, cheating.
In addition to bribing and intimidating referees, who turned a blind eye to their infractions, the Fathers threw pies at key members of the opposing team, used some surprising guests to confuse the Oilers and even turned their net around for awhile. When they played in Edmonton in the mid-1980s, members of the opposite team would get penalties for "acting like a Protestant."
That's the kind of hockey games fans in central Alberta should expect. "It's not like any other hockey game that you might see," Moret said. "There are lots of antics that go on."
The priest won't give away all the secrets but confirmed appearances by Smitty the Clown, "who always has a bunch of antics that he pulls out on the ice," and by the Flying Nun "who comes out there just to display some outstanding hockey skills and usually she is able to pop a goal."
Moret, 45, has been with the Flying Fathers for close to 10 years.