John Rieder is a Philly guy thru and thru. Growing up in a neighborhood known as Hunting Park, John, like most of us, caught the hockey bug at a young age. Spending time in the military and going to law school didn’t sway his love of the game…so, let’s go one on one with John Rieder.
KMN- I know you played Street hockey…when did you put on the skates?
JR-I first started playing a lot of roller hockey with friends and in a few local leagues. I worked at a local roller rink for many years growing up so I felt pretty comfortable on eight wheels. In the mid-1990s, I started playing ice hockey which was a whole new experience for me. I played center and wing in a couple of “C” level leagues around Philly to build up my skating but didn’t pick up playing goalie until around 1999-2000.
KMN- Goaltender….why that position?
JR- I loved playing goalie ever since I was a young kid playing street hockey. I can remember my very first set of pads made by my brother Mike. They were green trash bags wrapped around cushion foam with a baseball glove, player hockey glove for a blocker, and a painted plastic mask. Initially, I think playing goalie allowed me to play with much older kids but at some point, playing the position just gets into your blood. Even after not playing goalie for a few years, I always missed being in the net.
So, when I was stationed with the Air Force in Ohio I purchased some used ice hockey goalie equipment and joined a local league to give it a try. I loved the ice game from the very first time! I played goalie all four years while stationed in Ohio, two years in New Jersey, and another four years in Colorado and haven’t played anything other than goalie since.
KMN- How long have you been playing organized hockey?
JR- I would say off and on since I was probably 6 or 7 years old although the “organized” nature of some of the leagues varied greatly over the years. It ranged from a few teams of players thrown together in the neighborhood to leagues that have been around for many years. The hockey league I played in Colorado was sponsored by the Canadian Air Force for their military members serving in the U.S. I was lucky enough to fill a need for a goalie position.
KMN- Who are you currently playing with?
JR- I am currently playing for the Philadelphia Flyers Warriors which is an affiliated team of the NHL Philadelphia Flyers and is comprised of wounded and disabled military veterans. Warrior hockey is a USA Hockey program and includes teams from all over the United States, many are sponsored by the local professional sports team.
The Warrior program is growing larger every year. Each year USA Hockey arranges a large Warrior tournament which brings all the teams together for a weekend-long competition. This year the tournament was awarded to the Flyers Warriors and it is scheduled for November 5, 6, and 7, 2021 at the Flyers Skate Zone in Vorhees and Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell.
The Flyers Warriors includes men and women from all branches of the military, all ages, and all skill levels. There are players that played junior-level hockey and other players who are suiting up to play for the very first time. The Flyers Warrior program is one of the largest in the Nation now, with three complete teams playing at varying skill levels.
KMN- Brad Marsh, how big of an influence has he been?
JR- I am not sure I can put into words the influence and impact Brad Marsh has had on me and the other Flyers Warrior players. Here is one of the iron men of the NHL and one of the last to play the game without a helmet out on the ice every week with us. And his presence isn’t limited to just practice and games, Coach Marsh cares for our physical and mental well-being as well. He checks in on his players, brings in local and national leaders in Veteran health programs and even some of his ex-NHL teammates, and is always researching what more he can do for the players.
The other thing about Brad is the unique camaraderie he has with the players. Veterans, in general, can sometimes be a difficult group to relate to when you haven’t served. But for some reason – maybe the battles he saw on the ice over his 1,000 NHL games – he and the other coaches such as Bob “The Hound” Kelly and Rob Baer, just fit in with us as we all served together for years.
But make no mistake, you can take the player out of the NHL but not the NHL out of the player, Coach Marsh is incredibly passionate about the game and the on-ice success of the Flyers Warriors . . . and as a team, we feed off of it! I do still find at times shaking my head that I am even on the ice with players I grew up watching on TV but at my age and still playing the game, that time to appreciate it all is a good thing. If you don’t take time to stop and appreciate what you are doing, you just aren’t getting the most out of life.
KMN- Does hockey have a negative impact on your day job?
JR- Overall, I would say the physical health positives from practice and the positive effect being on the team has on my mental state completely outweighs any negative impacts. Ever since retiring from the Air Force, I missed the camaraderie and togetherness of being around other Veterans. We all had different experiences serving in the military but there is always a common thread between all of us.
Now that being said, I am currently recovering from a dislocated and fractured thumb from practice a few weeks ago. I will say that joining the Flyers Warriors I have upgraded almost all of my goalie equipment which has helped reduce any serious or long-term injuries. With the help of the Philadelphia Flyers, USA Hockey, and many of our amazing sponsors, the Warrior program does its very best to ensure each player on the ice has all the latest safety equipment.
KMN-Speaking of that, what is your day job?
JR- I am a Pennsylvania licensed attorney with my own small practice in York, Pennsylvania.
KMN- Finally, how long do you see yourself playing?
JR- I am really not sure. When I stopped playing after I retired from the Air Force in 2009 I truly thought my playing days were over. I even contemplated selling all of my goalie equipment many times. But being back on the ice and in the Warrior program, I feel like I have been given a second life to keep playing the game I love. And I have to credit my amazing wife Vicki and my five kids for not only supporting me as I returned to playing each week but also for talking me out of selling all of my goalie equipment.
Thanks to Mr. Rieder for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this! John Rieder is a Philly guy
Kevin has followed and promoted the game of lacrosse since May 19, 1974.
The same day the Philadelphia Flyers won the Cup, the Philadelphia Wings were introduced to Neibauer and Philadelphia.
Kevin has covered many sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and.. lacrosse. A former licensed football referee and baseball umpire, Kevin brings a unique insight to his game coverage.
A published writer in JustHockey Magazine, Kevin covered the American Hockey League as well as a monthly story on a pugilist where Kevin used the pen name, The Rink Rat. Neibauer turned his attentions to lacrosse for a few years and does his part, whether podcasting or writing to grow the game. Kevin branched out to his roots and currently provides insight for all Philadelphia teams for Edge of Philly as well as his full-time duties with LaxPhilly.