By day, Conor McManus studies the larvae of Atlantic mackerel. By night, he’s chasing a puck on a sheet of ice.
McManus plays right wing on the Bay Blades, the let’s-have-a-blast hockey team at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography.
The team will face off against its longtime rival, the High Stickers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, on Saturday, April 9 at 2 p.m. in Boss Ice Arena on the Kingston campus. The event is free and open to the public.
“It should be fun,’’ says McManus, 24, of Milton, Mass. “We’re all pretty excited.’’
The teams have been competing against each other since the early 1980s as a way to meet other scientists—and create some school spirit on the campuses.
The 15-member GSO team is made up of scientists, researchers, staff, students and even an alumnus and his son. Most of the men—yes, they’re all men—played hockey as kids and still love the game as adults.
They practice on Thursday nights at St. George’s School in Newport.
“It adds another level of camaraderie and campus spirit to GSO,’’ says McManus, the team’s spokesman. “I love the people I skate with. They’re nice guys. It’s also great exercise.’’
The team will square off again on Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m., for a game at Gallo Ice Arena in Buzzard’s Bay, Mass. The winner of the tournament gets the coveted Niskin Cup. For the record, a niskin bottle is used by oceanographers to collect sea samples.
Ed Baker, manager of the marine science research facilities on the Bay campus, has been playing on the Bay Blades for a decade.
“In the world of hockey there’s something called ‘hockey disorder’ where you really like hockey a lot,’’ he says. “It’s an enthusiastic appreciation of the sport. Many of us have it, even though we’re not that good.’’
Baker says he’s buddies with many of the High Stickers’ players. “They’re good guys, but when they get on the ice it’s all business. We’re in it to win.’’