As a high schooler, my dad played hockey in New York City. He was pretty good, I think; at least, that’s what I gathered from the trophy I found in an old box when I was a kid. Not that it mattered. What did matter was that he brought hockey into my and my younger brother’s childhoods, although probably not in the way you might think.

There wasn’t an NHL team in my home state of West Virginia, so we didn’t go to games all that often. Instead, my dad set up a makeshift rink in our basement by placing nets on either side of the roughly 25-foot-long tiled floor. My brother and I had plastic sticks while Dad had an old wooden one. We spent hours down there slapping around a plastic puck we’d wrapped in duct tape when it had cracked—and laughing at my dad as he goofed around while simultaneously showing us why he still loved hockey 20 years after hanging up his skates.

I was reminded of those long-ago days while reading this month’s “Line Change,” senior editor Nicholas Hunt’s pull-back-the-curtain look at the top-level amateur hockey teams that inhabit so many towns across the West. If you haven’t heard of the Vail Yeti or the Breckenridge Vipers or the Jackson Hole Moose or the Park City Pioneers, you’re not alone. But you are missing out on some Mystery, Alaska–style stories, particularly one that’s been brewing here in Colorado with a 33-year-old named Richard Batenburg III. “After having played in Canada and then in college, Rick just couldn’t let go of the sport,” Hunt says. “So, after trying to get a normal job and do the adult thing for a while, he ultimately returned to hockey as the founder of a nonprofit amateur team in Breckenridge. Now Rick wants to grow the business of these so-called Senior A teams in the West—but not everyone is on board with it.”

Hunt’s piece could be described as a profile of Batenburg, a somewhat controversial man who simply loves being on the ice. But maybe more than that, it’s the kind of slice-of-life, small-town Colorado story that, just for a few moments, takes you out of your world and puts you into someone else’s.

Illustration by Arthur Mount

Sarah Banks
Deputy Photo Editor

For this issue’s roundup of the best bars in the metro area, deputy photo editor Sarah Banks was tasked with not just photographing the entire feature (“The Occasional Drink”), but also taking the photo that would grace the cover. To choose the spots that would be featured, Banks first perused the list in search of picturesque spaces that also had eye-catching cocktails. Then she spent hours sifting through inspiration images and combing sites like Yelp to get a sense of what angles she could expect once on location. During the shoots, Banks and her colleagues made further alterations to the scenes—dozens of tiny adjustments, like moving a glass just one inch to the right. A few different locales were initially in the running for the coveted cover spot, but Three Saints Revival, a buzzy tapas and wine bar behind Union Station, quickly became the 5280 art team’s favorite. Despite the high stakes of capturing the perfect cover image, Banks has photographed enough of them in her nine years at 5280 that she no longer feels nervous. “That feeling has morphed into adrenaline-fueled anticipation,” she says. “By the time the shoot date finally rolls around, I’m ready to go! The shoot is the fun part.” There was one thing, however, that was different about this go-around, Banks says: “This is my first cover where I both photographed it and appear in it.”