The Fathers play about 30 games each season, most of them in Canada, although they have also toured the U.S. and Europe. Their record isn't known, but it is thought that they've lost only about a dozen of the 600 games they have played. Father Vaughan Quinn, who has spent 11 years in goal, says the Fathers usually take on local amateur all-star teams, and he claims to know the secret of their success: "We've got God on our side." The team's slogan is "Playing and Praying."
The Fathers play well and hard, but they toss in plenty of Globetrotteresque antics. They slap pies in faces and fling buckets of both water and confetti. At a game last week in Calgary against a team of local fire fighters, Father Dan Bagley came down the ice with the puck tethered to his stick, faked left, then right, then threw stick and puck together into the cage. The goal counted. As always, the game was free of gratuitous violence, but one fire fighter was sent to the penalty box for an infraction the P.A. man described as "missing Sunday mass." Costello was assessed two minutes "for acting like a Protestant." At one point a bench-warming priest donned a habit and leapt onto the ice as the Flying Nun. He, er, she checked fire fighters into the boards for two furious minutes before politely returning to the bench. The Fathers won 6-4.
Although the routines aren't spontaneous, they haven't been honed through hours of arduous rehearsal, either. "We last practiced in 1975," says Quinn. "After that one, we said, 'Screw work, let's just play.' "
The game in Calgary drew 11,858 fans and raised money for muscular dystrophy. In that spirit of charity, the Flying Fathers play—and pray—on.