FORWARD OPERATING BASE FRONTENAC, Afghanistan • There are hockey fans and there is Pfc. Benjamin Lynch, 21, a soldier from Brentwood.
Any spare moment between missions driving an armored ambulance in a rugged and dangerous swath of Afghanistan, he’s on the computer checking statistics online or catching a game – any hockey game – on television. Or he’s playing hockey on Xbox.
“It’s pretty much the only thing I like,” he said.
During his tour here, he has played street hockey on an open-air basketball court with other Missouri Guardsmen on base. His mean toe drag and solid shot play in contrast to his typical demeanor.
“Most people, when I tell them I play hockey, they don’t expect it because I am skinny and I am quiet,” he said. “It’s kind of a different thing for me.”
Still, the concrete surface and cammo-net goals just aren’t the same as Brentwood Ice Rink, where he works when he isn’t deployed, or where he plays pick-up games in Creve Coeur and the St. Louis Mills Ice Zone.
He usually sits up in the cheap seats at Blues games.
“I’ll take whatever seat I can get,” he said.
He’s pleased with scorers Vladimir Tarasenko, of Russia, and T. J. Oshie.
Maybe he’ll go to a game when his tour ends.
“Hopefully they’ll still be in the playoffs by the time we get back,” he said.
For now, on a recent night, he settled for watching the Boston Bruins versus the Carolina Hurricanes in a plywood shack used for mission briefings.
Anything would do.