The rinking life

TONY breaks the ice with four New York Rangers-and scores a few scoops

RANGERS IN THE NIGHT Strudwick, Ortmeyer, Moore and Rucchin, from left, say cheers.

RANGERS IN THE NIGHT Strudwick, Ortmeyer, Moore and Rucchin, from left, say cheers. Photo: Donald Bowers

Hockey players aren't all meatheads, even if they often lack their own teeth and frequently sport fresh stitches on their faces. We wanted to learn more, so we took four new New York Rangers for a night on the town—and made some surprising discoveries.

Hockey players like models! We start at the swank rooftop bar of the Hotel Gansevoort (18 Ninth Ave at 13th St, 212-206-6700), where a Victoria's Secret model is talking about a recent photo shoot in Kenya. "You know," strapping defenseman Jason Strudwick says, sipping a Budweiser and leaning in, "going on safari is one of my top five fantasies. And the other four we can't discuss." Sadly, the model has to leave for a baby-sitting gig, she claims—which proves to be a sore spot for the guys throughout the evening.

They usually DON'T get shit-faced. Our multiple entreaties to drink the pain away—with shots!—are met with resistance. "We have to be on the ice tomorrow morning, so we can't be hungover," says Harvard-educated forward Dominic Moore. "There's no real regulation on our drinking," adds shaggy-haired center Jed Ortmeyer, "but if you've been drinking all night, people can smell it on you when you sweat."

They're always in search of the next meal. We try a small those-in-the-know spot, Passerby (436 W 15th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves, 212-206-7321), but the boys are unimpressed by the sultry low-lit space; they're hungry. At Pop Burger (58--60 Ninth Ave between 14th and 15th Sts, 212-414-8686), they wash down lobster nachos and miniburgers with beer, their drink of choice.

They go to Broadway shows. "Anyone seen Wicked?" asks center Steve Rucchin as the food disappears. Strudwick hums a few bars from Jesus Christ Superstar.

They like sports bars! The night winds down at Brass Monkey (55 Little W 12th St between Washington St and Tenth Ave, 212-675-6686). "This is perfect for hockey players! You can sit down and drink beers and hear people talk," says an excited Strudwick. Beers go in and hockey secrets tumble out.

They'd rather you didn't stalk them. "'Puck buddies' aren't the kind of people we would want to associate with," says Moore, using a slang term for a crazed female hockey fan. Ortmeyer tells of the time an enthusiast built a snowman in his front yard and attached a note with her number. It creeped him out.

Their handlers—who insisted on tagging along—are overprotective. At this point, the handlers get nervous about the direction the conversation is heading—and cue the guys to stuff a sock in it. "It's tough," Rucchin admits later on. "As much as we'd like to have fun, it's just, you know, we can't."—Alison Rosen