Son, alumni game bring Hoffstatter back to hockey

Through a serendipitous touch, Ted Hoffstatter got his old high school number.

Nearly everything else was different.

These days, Hoffstatter represents Wilton in the political arena, serving on the Board of Selectmen since 2007. A while back, though, Hoffstatter was a member of the Wilton High hockey team, playing in the program for four seasons before graduating in 1987.

After that, there was one year of club hockey at Gettysburg College. Then, Hoffstatter transferred to Eckerd College in Florida, where there was no team, and began embarking on the rest of his life, which has so far included a few years pursuing an acting career in New York City, a marriage, two children, a job as a social studies teacher, and the venture into politics — Hoffstatter ran for state representative this fall, losing to Republican incumbent Gail Lavielle in the 143rd Assembly District, which covers Wilton, Norwalk and Westport.

Hockey? That appeared to be strictly past tense.

Until last spring.

“Our three-year-old son, Wyatt, wanted to pay and we signed him up for the Ice Mites program in Ridgefield,” said Hoffstatter. “Once I got out on the ice with him, I realized how much I loved and missed the game. Soon after that, I decided to play in the next Wilton High alumni game.”

That took place last Friday at the Winter Garden Arena in Ridgefield, as members of the 2012-13 WHS varsity team played a group of former Warriors in the annual contest. Nearly 25 years after his last competitive game, Hoffstatter noticed some changes.

“Pads today aren't really “pads.” They are one step short of armor,” said Hoffstatter. “Back in the day, they really were just pads.”

Also eye-opening was the facility, where the Wilton teams have long practiced and played games.

“The Ridgefield rink used to have an “open side,” with a fence,” recalled Hoffstatter. “The 1987 Warriors loved it. While we may have had sub-zero 5 a.m. practices where there was actually a wind-chill factor on the ice, we also had the luxury of sneaking in on a Saturday somewhere around midnight. We used to climb the fence, and play by the dim light provided by the Pepsi clock.”

Despite being the second oldest player at the alumni game — that honor went to Hal Hyatt, who graduated one year earlier — Hoffstatter was happy with his rusty effort.

“I thought I held my own out there,” he said. “I always knew where I wanted or needed to be. The question was whether my skates would go fast enough to get there.”

The non-checking game had the firewagon feel of an NHL All-Star game, with the alumni prevailing, 13-10.

“Most of the alumni were guys home from college and very talented,” said Hoffstatter. “[It was] so great to share the ice with so many talented players.”

He even came close to scoring a goal.

“I thought I had the rebound that was going in when the current varsity Warriors’ goalie locked pads on it while down on the ice,” he said. “It was a great save.”

Hoffstatter described the event as uplifting.

“The bond we all felt as Wilton Warriors was strong whether we had ever met each other before or not,” he said. “The energy on the ice was one hundred percent positive. This game was a true celebration of Wilton Warrior hockey and all things positive about team sports, and how those lessons we learn growing up carry us through life.”

One lesson Hoffstatter learned was that he will be returning for the 2013 alumni game. He has to.

“They gave me the number 17, which just so happens to be the number I wore in high school,” he said. “I asked if I could take it home and they said it was OK, as long as I agreed to play next year.”