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Col. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, 35th Fighter Wing and Misawa Air Base, Japan, commander, catches a breather on the bench Sunday night during an ice hockey game at the Misawa Ice Arena. O'Shaughnessy is the only American on the Misawa Seniors. He joined to meet people in the community and because he loves the game. The hockey league is open to other Americans, as well.

Col. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, 35th Fighter Wing and Misawa Air Base, Japan, commander, catches a breather on the bench Sunday night during an ice hockey game at the Misawa Ice Arena. O'Shaughnessy is the only American on the Misawa Seniors. He joined to meet people in the community and because he loves the game. The hockey league is open to other Americans, as well. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

Col. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, 35th Fighter Wing and Misawa Air Base, Japan, commander, catches a breather on the bench Sunday night during an ice hockey game at the Misawa Ice Arena. O'Shaughnessy is the only American on the Misawa Seniors. He joined to meet people in the community and because he loves the game. The hockey league is open to other Americans, as well.

Col. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, 35th Fighter Wing and Misawa Air Base, Japan, commander, catches a breather on the bench Sunday night during an ice hockey game at the Misawa Ice Arena. O'Shaughnessy is the only American on the Misawa Seniors. He joined to meet people in the community and because he loves the game. The hockey league is open to other Americans, as well. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

Col. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy keeps his eye on the puck Sunday night during an ice hockey game at the Misawa Ice Arena.

Col. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy keeps his eye on the puck Sunday night during an ice hockey game at the Misawa Ice Arena. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

Col. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy couldn't help but smile during his second game Sunday night with the Misawa Seniors. He scored two goals, helping his team to a 2-2 tie in action at the Misawa Ice Arena.

Col. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy couldn't help but smile during his second game Sunday night with the Misawa Seniors. He scored two goals, helping his team to a 2-2 tie in action at the Misawa Ice Arena. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA, Japan — On the ice, he’s known as “Shags.”

Col. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, 35th Fighter Wing and Misawa Air Base commander, suits up once a week for the Misawa Seniors, a local amateur Japanese ice hockey team.

In doing so, he’s found an unusual way to build relations between the base and Japanese community while playing a game he loves.

O’Shaughnessy, 43, laced up for his first hockey game when he was 4 or 5.

“They start early in Boston,” he said. He also played goalie for the U.S. Air Force Academy from 1983-86.

He has quite a hockey resume, but the Misawa Seniors didn’t recruit him.

O’Shaughnessy heard about the local hockey league from a city assemblyman and hockey player he knows through the Misawa International Club. From there, he found out how he could join.

“I thought it would be a good way to meet some people and get involved with the community,” he said.

Already he’s met Japanese from a variety of backgrounds, including city workers, shopkeepers and base employees.

After three 15-minute periods of play — interspersed with rest on the bench — O’Shaughnessy said, “I’m a little slower than I used to be, but I still enjoy it just as much.”

Playing left wing, the commander is proving he can easily hang with his team. He scored two goals Sunday night at the Misawa Ice Arena. One was a tap-in on a pass; the other a straight shot into the goal.

“It feels good to contribute to the team,” he said afterward.

O’Shaughnessy said the Japanese play the game pretty much as it’s played in North America — minus the roughhousing.

“There’s no cheap shots; it’s a very clean game,” he said.

Language differences rein in the possibility of having lengthy conversations with other players. But few words are needed in hockey, O’Shaughnessy said. After his second goal Sunday, it was evident that O’Shaughnessy’s teammates were happy to have him on board.

They repeated “good” and “Shags” and doled out high-fives after he scored.

O’Shaughnessy said other Americans interested in playing are welcome. Contact the Misawa Ice Hockey Association at (0176) 57-2110 for more information.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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