9:30 pm, Friday April 4. Most folks are home with their families or out partying with friends. For members of the Nashville Fire Department hockey team, nights away from their families are nothing new. But on that evening, instead of battling a blaze or responding to a medical call, they are facing a different challenge.
The Toledo Fire Department team traveled all day to make the 9:30 game. The trip down from Ohio (the scenic route via Knoxville) had taken a toll on the players. Cara-vanning down from Toledo to Franklin, TN, they have been cooped up for hours. The guys are ready to get out, stretch and hit the ice.
On this Friday night in April, the two teams battled it out for pride. But the gravity of the next day’s game weighs heavily on both teams. The following Saturday, the teams will take to the ice and honor Toledo Firefighters Stephen A. Machcinski and James Dickman who were killed in the line of duty battling a fire on January 26, 2014.
The Nashville Fire Department hockey team dates back to 1997. A few firefighters were sitting around the station one day, and the subject of hockey came up. The guys started talking not only about the professional teams they followed but their love of playing in the rec league. A few calls were made to different stations and before long a team was assembled.
The team continued in different capacities playing local rec league games when the guys were available and even formed the Fireman’s Hockey League in Franklin (FHL). In the late 2000’s the team evolved into the current reincarnation. Nashville Fire will routinely faceoff against Metro Nashville PD in charity games. Beginning in 2012, the team started hosting MNPD in a “Guns and Hoses” battle at the Bridgestone Arena. That Nashville Predators have provided ice for the games as well as notable Preds Alumni playing for each side, including Stu Grimson and JP Dumont in previous games.
This season, every game the team plays, donations are accepted for a different charity. So far money has been raised for the family of Nashville Firefighter Mikey Malone as well as the Machcinski/ Dickman Memorial. The team has attracted nationwide attention for their dedication and upcoming games include Illinois’s finest which is made up of Firefighters from the Chicago area and the NYPD Hockey team.
The Nashville Fire Department team is made up of Fire and EMS personnel from not just Nashville but the surrounding area as well. The team even has a group of Nashville PD officers that join them during some of their tournaments. Just like during their day jobs, the team has to be prepared for anything. On this Friday evening the team was only able to dress 2 lines vs a Toledo team running 4 lines plus, deep. The final score was 7-4 but, the score isn’t what matters to these firemen. It’s the pride and the camaraderie that comes from playing the game. After battling for 60 minutes on ice, both teams headed to their respective dressing room. But within minutes the Toledo team was in the NFD locker room. Introducing themselves, and in less time than it takes a Shea Weber slap shot to reach the net, the brothers were intermingled. Talk quickly turned from the previous game played, to the job they love. Before long instant bonds were made. Soon, they will battle it out on ice again, but tonight, they are brothers united by fire. And that is the spirit of the NFD Hockey team.
Upcoming Games for NFD Hockey include:
Friday, May 2, 2014 vs NYPD 9:30pm
Saturday, May 3, 2014 vs NYPD 2:30pm
All games are at A Game Sportsplex, 215 Gothic Court, Franklin TN. Admission is free but feel free to put money in the boot or purchase NFD Hockey merchandise to support the causes played for.