Old guys find fountain of youth at the hockey rink

Two teams representing the Highlands in Winterfest 2011

By Terrance Gavan

Every Friday afternoon you will find Highland warrior, Ian Wilson, donning the pads of ignorance, and lacing up his icy sharp steel blades, before grabbing his weapon of choice, a titanium implement wound tight with CCM tape.

Wilson is not one of those crazy re-enactment buffs who gather to pound each other with vintage swords or jousting poles.

No.

Ian Wilson is a Canadian warrior.

Right down to the Tim Horton’s coffee, Reebok body armor, Tackaberries and large zippered duffle.

He’s a hockey player.

Oh right.

What’s so special?

Well, what’s unique is that Ian Wilson is 59 and is just one of a growing demographic of baby boomers who are beginning to realize that the fountain of youth lies not in some South American jungle, but right here at home, in a local gym, curling rink, golf course or… hockey rink.

Ian Wilson is the playing coach of the Haliburton over 55 hockey team that began its quest for gold yesterday in the Winterfest 2011 senior winter games.

Glenn Smith is the playing coach of the over 65 team representing Haliburton and the Highlands.

Both teams started their pool action yesterday (Wednesday Feb 16) at 9 a.m. and the action continues today at all three hockey arenas in the area – Wilberforce, Dysart and SG Nesbitt in Minden.

This is Wilson’s third winter games tourney.

He says that each year the team either gets better or smarter – or maybe it’s just a question of some old doggedly determined guys learning some new tricks.

“Four years ago we went in undermanned and lost all three games,” says Wilson. At the last games back in 2009 the Haliburton squad won one lost one and tied one.

“This year we have two teams and full squads – with three lines, six defensemen and two goalies – and we hope to get into the second round,” says Wilson.

The rules have changed this year. The teams in the senior winter games used to carry a share of over 55s, over 65s, and over 75s and each age category had colored tape on their helmets. Every shift had to have a combination of age group players on the ice at any one time.

Don’t worry, Wilson says it wasn’t as complicated as it sounds.

However he seems happy with the new format. This year 20 teams are competing in the two-day tourney, 12 over 55 clubs, and eight over 65 teams.

Wilson says both Highlands’ clubs, made up of players from that Friday afternoon league, are ready to represent.

Indeed, the Friday afternoon hockey league was actually spawned by that 2007 Winterfest event.

“Glennie (Smith) derived a shinny team some time back, basically an organized pick up game for some of the older guys,” says Wilson. “And I devised the Friday afternoon league three years ago.

“We play from 1:30 to 4 p.m., one week in Haliburton and the next in Minden.”

This year the four-team league plays a dedicated schedule of 26 games and Wilson says that the area could easily have entered four teams in the winter games. The sport is that popular here.

“Most of the guys play elsewhere  and some are playing at least three times a week and most of the guys are active all year round on the golf course, with tennis or other sports,” he adds. “It’s great exercise and the camaraderie is great too… it’s social thing and we meet for lunch or go out for supper and we’ll have a beer or two.”

They also enter their share of tourneys throughout the season and Wilson’s team lost in the final of the old timer’s event in the recent Scotty Morrison tournament for Community Care.

The over 55s began their odyssey yesterday at the Dysart Arena against a team from Lanark at 9 am. The over 65s with Glenn Smith at the helm opened their Winterfest tourney at the same time over at Sam Tallman Arena in Wilberforce. Action continues on three fronts all day Thursday.

Ian Wilson says it’s a great way to stay in shape.

Also a wonderful way to relive a misspent youth.

Remember when you used to knock off class to play a little shinny on the local outdoor rink?

At the last Winterfest tournament Wilson says he went out to take the opening face off and was surprised to hear some trash talk from his opposite number.

“Not you… again,” said the opposing centerman. “I recognized him right away and we hadn’t seen each other in 35 years and here we were back on the ice playing hockey again,” laughs Wilson.

And that’s really what the senior games are all about.

Keeping the muscles working.

Staying active.

Keeping the ghosts at bay… while meeting some old ghosts and friends along the way.

If you’re over 55 and think that you might want to get involved in hockey again?
Get in touch with me at gav@pardontheeruption.com and I’ll be glad to forward your name off to Glenn Wilson or Ian Wilson.

No head shots, slap shots or concussive activity I’m told.

Just good head-man hockey with a great bunch of old rink warriors.

And maybe a double-double Tim’s to start and an après pop or two with some really great guys.