Longshot Dreams and Slapshot Fiends in the Ultimate ’90s Pro Sports League
In the age when Rollerblades were king, a crew of wide-eyed rookies and grizzled NHL vets brought hockey-on-wheels to the cusp of the big time.
Header photo by J McIsaac/Getty Images | Edited by Farah Mohammed
Joe Tamburino was a longshot. Describing his path to becoming a professional hockey player any other way would be an understatement.
He fell in love with the sport while watching the New York Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s. But for a blue-collar kid like Joe, ice hockey was never really an option — back then, rinks were scarce, and ice time was expensive. To emulate his favorite players — Pat LaFontaine, Bobby Nystrom and Mike Bossy — Joe took to the streets of Long Island on his quad skates, and later, inline blades.
As a teenager, Joe realized he was a pretty gifted player. Guys from the neighborhood would often ask him to fill in on their teams, picking him up and dropping him off, as he hadn’t yet gotten a driver’s license. When Joe was 16, he started playing in a full-contact roller league in Queens, widely recognized as the best in New York City. A few years later, when the brand-new Roller Hockey International…
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