Cool as ice: (L-R) Rep. Larry Bucshon, Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Erik Paulsen, Rep. Pat Meehan, Rep. Mike Quigley, winners of Sunday’s Congressional Hockey Challenge. (Photo by Marcus Bennett)

Once a hockey nut, always a hockey nut.

During his last hockey game on New Year’s Eve, John Kerry suffered a broken nose and black eyes so colorful that he walked around wearing sunglasses. At 68 years old, you’d think Massachusetts’s senior senator might consider giving up the game to concentrate on gentler pursuits. . . like, say, politics.

H-E-double-hockey-sticks, no.

“I’m not ready to hang it up,” he told us Sunday. “I love it. It’s a great game and I’m able to still skate — I’ve got two artificial hips and I’m still out there.”

Kerry couldn’t wait to get on the ice Sunday for the 4th Congressional Hockey Challenge, which pits lawmakers against lobbyists. His enthusiasm for the sport earned him mad props from all the other players, even his opponents. “I hope I’m able to get out of bed at his age, much less play hockey,” said UPS’s Nick Lewis.

Kerry with the Stanley Cup and official cup handler Mike Bolt at the Comcast offices Wednesday. (Marcus Bennet)

The lawmakers wanted payback: They won the inaugural game in 2009, then lost to the lobbyists two years in a row. “The pressure’s huge, so this is a revenge game,” said Kerry. Each roster boasted a mix of big names and young ringers (i.e., staffers with serious ice skills.) “I got dragged into it this year,” said Rep. Erik Paulsen. “But Minnesota has such a proud hockey tradition, so I had to play.”

At first, it looked like a rout: The lawmakers scored two goals in the first eight minutes of the game, and another two in the second period. Despite no slashing/tripping/checking rules, there were tough hits, penalties and a passing moment when it looked as if the teams would start an old-fashioned, kick-butt fight on the ice. Cooler heads prevailed: The lobbyists managed to put three goals on the scoreboard but lost to the lawmakers 5-3.

The winning team happily passed the silver trophy — none happier than player #1.

“Senator Kerry is an inspiration,” lobbyist Lewis told us. “If we ever say we’re too old for it, we might as well pack it in.”

Video: Lobbyist and congressional staff hit the ice

Read earlier:
John Kerry’s black eyes, broken nose at White House (photo), 1/24/12

John Kerry’s hockey accident — so bad he had to wear shades!, 1/26/12