Earlier today, the most intriguing athlete bio in the history of athlete bios made the rounds. Zung Nguyen, a 37-year old defenseman for a Boston-area men's hockey league, became an instant legend for this single sentence:
"PLAYER KICKED OUT OF LEAGUE FOR DEFECATING IN OPPONENT'S GLOVE FOLLOWING A FIGHT ON THE ICE."
We put out a call for more information, and you did not disappoint. We spoke to teammates of both pooper and poopee, and have been able to reconstruct just what led one grown man to shit in another's gear.
Rogue Squadron and the Young Guns were first and second in their division, but it was not a grudge match when they faced off late on a Friday night. With players ranging from their late 20s to north of 50, it's usually just good, clean fun for men willing to pay $495 to play hockey intense enough to satisfy the need for competition, but casual enough for a case of beer to be on ice in every locker room.
So there was no bad blood, only a late season game with first place on the line at the Pilgrim Rink in Hingham, Mass. But the fireworks began early. Just a few seconds in the game, the puck ended up trapped against the boards in the Young Guns' zone. Rogue Squadron defenseman Zung Nguyen had it pinned, with Young Guns' d-man Dave Bermingham trying to poke it free. Nguyen gave Bermingham a few pokes to the ribs with the butt of his stick, "Bermie" responded in kind, and the gloves came off.
This was rare in itself. The "D" level is reportedly one of the more "goonish" leagues in the NESHL, and the 41-year-old Bermingham is described by a teammate as a "meathead" who's always looking to scrap. But because fighting is outlawed and grounds for immediate ejection, it's very rare to have an honest bare-knuckled fight. Nguyen, who had zero penalty minutes before this game, wasn't a fighter. A former teammate says he was never particularly crazy, and there are 50 other guys in the league he'd have pegged to pull something like this before Nguyen. Sometimes, you catch a guy on the wrong day.
Players on both sides say Bermingham won the fight clearly—"beat the crap out him," to use one's unfortunate phrase. Both players got unsportsmanlike conduct majors, and game misconducts; their nights were done. As they skated back to their respective locker rooms, a still-furious Nguyen hurled one of Bermingham's gloves over the glass into an empty section of seats.
That was supposed to be the end of it. "Guys get into it," one Rogue Squadron player said, "and then they move on. It's just rec league hockey."
Just after the second period began, Nguyen emerged from his locker room and went into the seats near where he had thrown Bermingham's glove. Teammates thought Nguyen was going to see his girlfriend, who had come to watch him play. Soon after, he went down to the corner of the arena, a semi-secluded area near where the Zamboni enters the ice. Young Guns players on the bench saw him squatting there, but didn't think anything of it at the time. He then returned the glove to its original spot in the seats.
Midway through the second period, Bermingham came out of his locker room. He had showered and changed and was ready to crack open a beer but needed to collect the last of his scattered equipment. Those gloves were nearly new: this was the second game he had worn them, and the price tag was still on. Bermie went into the seats where it had landed, picked it up, and put his hand in.
Inside, shit. Fresh, wet, warm, pungent human shit. Bermingham held the glove at arms length and immediately ran alongside the dasher to hand it to a referee. He then stormed off to the locker room.
"Bermie knew he needed to get out of there or he would have killed the guy," one says. "And he probably needed to wash his hands."
The referees immediately declared the game a forfeit win for the Young Guns. At a league meeting the next Monday morning, the NESHL banned Nguyen for life, with no refund on his entry fee. Since he was signed up for three teams at once, he was out $1500.
As it turns out, Rogue Squadron has won every game this year in which one of their players didn't poop inside an opponent's equipment. They lead the Young Guns by a single point in the standings, with just two games left to play. In their first game following the incident, Rogue Squadron passed the hat in the locker room to buy Bermingham a gift card for a sporting goods store. They heard he needed new gloves.
UPDATE: One of Bermingham's teammates sent us a photo of the infamous glove. Click to enlarge.