Saturday, January 22, 2011

Remembering the MHL

While you may be unfamiliar with the Miniature Hockey League, or the MHL as it was most often called, you are probably familiar with a variation of the league or game commonly known as “mini sticks”. Played in basements, arena dressing rooms, and in hotel hallways; ministicks has been played and loved by many.

In highschool, a few of my friends and I, bored on a Friday night, began shooting around with some mini plastic sticks in a basement. It was fun, we had a little tournament and it was competitive. The next Friday night, we couldn’t find anything to do (we didn’t drink yet), so we decided to play mini sticks again. That night, the MHL was born.

The league started with 4 players: myself, Bouff, Dave, and Jimmy. Each player was unique, and brought something special to the league. Bouff was a talented dangler who could easily be pushed around. Dave was a hothead who wouldn’t take shit. Jimmy was a shutdown defenceman and goaltender who followed the trap system to a tee. I was a power forward who would get scrappy goals and played with heart.

Our format was simple: round robin play with everyone playing each other once to determine playoff seeding, and a single elimination playoff round to declare the champion. Pride was always on the line, as well as bragging rights for the entire week. Eventually, the league developed and a replica Stanley Cup was added as the league trophy. Stats were kept: goals, shots, save percentages, it was pretty legit. After every Friday, a recap was written detailing the games and stats, these contained some pretty hilarious highlights:
  • Numerous accounts of Dave ripping his jeans
  • The time some girls came over through the back door and we ran to hide the replica Stanley Cup
  • The MHL All-Star Game, which included: “fastest knee run”,"accuracy shooting" and a “hardest shot” skills competition
  • Dave breaking the Stanley Cup with a tomahawk throw after a loss
  • The numerous times a stick would break and pieces would almost take an eye out
  • The time we introduced shots on goal as a category and someone who wasn't playing would be the designated statistician
  • The Playboy Channel on in the background of games
Eventually the league expanded, with a hard shooting righty named Justin joining the MHL. This would only add to the storylines and memories on Friday nights, with Justin bringing a shot never before seen to our basement arena. I can only imagine how goalies felt when Bobby Hull started using a hook on his stick. Justin could make a small foam ball sting off your forehead. With the expansion, the league thrived and every second of every game was intense down to the final buzzer of the kitchen timer we used.




Over the weeks, the league experienced some set backs. The basement was resurfaced for a softer carpet, which temporarily lead to a new rival league being formed in Justin’s basement, the EHL, or European Hockey League. With bigger nets and a smaller playing surface, the new league emphasized skill and finesse, as offence skyrocketed. Another setback came from players no-showing because of prior engagements (girlfriends FTW), and probably the biggest factor, binge drinking on Friday nights. The fun of MHL couldn’t last forever. Parties became the norm, and the arena basement was left in the dark. I feel the same about this basement as I do for Maple Leaf Gardens. The league folded, the trophy got lost and destroyed, and the players moved on. It was like the WHA.

There was talk of a MHL Legends game a few years back, but that fell through. The commissioner tried, but the league remains defunct. Occasionally, during a predrink, we’ll still pick up the miniature plastic twigs, and have a few games. Mini sticks is just one of those games that will never get old.

4 comments:

  1. I got a scar on my forehead from someones mini stick breaking and clipping me... rough sport haha

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  2. I had a similar league... we had an old bowling trophy as our championship...

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  3. Pett and I started a League in his basement, all i remember it was really rough and I was like Dave in the league(A hothead who wouldnt take shit). It was also called the MHL and we had a trophy we made out of a lego piece. We all initialed it and I must of ended up winning in because its somewhere in my house. It was such a fun game but i remembered really banging up the knees.

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  4. I got pussy courtesy of the MHL......oh the days

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