Once an Old-Timer, Always an Old-Timer

Old Timers HockeyShirleen Dehaan

The weekend of March 4 to 6 2016, the Tumbler Ridge Avalanche Old Timers Club hosted their annual Tournament. Old-timers clubs from around the region were invited to attend.

This year was the second consecutive occurrence of the event following a three year break.

Seven out-of-town teams participated in the event with a total of eight teams including the local Tumbler Ridge Avalanche team.

Off and on for five years’ president of the club (and also president of Minor Hockey in Tumbler Ridge) Keith Bertrand spoke with Tumbler Ridge News regarding the event.

The results of the Tournament were as follows. The number one team this year was the Dawson Creek Griffins winning the the tournament by one point with a total of 22 points over the Chetwynd team the Saulteau Selects who ended up taking second place with 21 points.

“The Tumbler Ridge Avalanche old-timers team sponsored by Avalanche Trucking, who won one, and lost two, but overall the event was a huge success,” says Bertrand.

The event is organized with “two thirty minute run-time periods. The point break down was as follows:

In each game, the team ahead in period one scores two points for their team with the winner of the second period also scoring two points for their team. Overall game winning team will score two points, and in addition to that the team with the least amount of penalties in a game will score two points.  So needless to say the gloves don’t often come off during this well organized, and highly anticipated annual tournament.

“To allow for two floods of the ice instead of one, the organizers opted out of the usual shoot out between periods” says Bertrand.

An anonymous attendee was overheard exclaiming “this years tournament was the best one he had ever attended.”

Bertrand explains “This year we really put on a good show, there are usually a beer gardens in the skating lounge of the Community Centre. People are able to take their beverages rink-side to watch the game. “

Another highlight of the event which took place on Saturday, was a hospitality table set up every year by local club members and their wives who volunteer their time and resources to prepare free of charge, a big spread of food for all participants of the event.

This year membership is down to 13 for our local old-timers club as compared to last year’s membership. At 21, it was the biggest year to date.

Members range in age with the Oldest close to 60 and the youngest generally 35. This year, age exceptions were made in response to last year’s recreational hockey league folding, making this year’s youngest member a very young old-timer at the age of 24.

As one of the longest standing clubs in Tumbler Ridge going 25 years strong, it must be mentioned that, in addition to the successful hosting of the annual tournament the Tumbler Ridge Old-Timers Hockey Club supports the community, too.

“Every year the club donates to high school grad classes as well as offering a scholarship to children of its members who graduate high school, in the amount of $500 each” say Bertrand.

Organizing a tournament like this one involves two months of planning.  In past years the beer gardens was contracted out. However in the two most recent years members wives, and previous members wives have volunteered their time to run it themselves. “Proceeds from the revenue of returned empty bottles and cans from the event this year were donated exclusively to the high school Quebec trip and their new student exchange program” added Bertrand.

The club is “Open to new potential members. Anyone interested is encouraged come out Monday and Friday nights from 8:30pm to 9:30pm  for a skate with a $10 drop in fee, and if you are still interested in joining, membership fee for the year is $500 which includes a stall in our dressing room that is leased from the district by the club year round.

Bertrand specifically mention his appreciation and thanks to “local RCMP for ensuring the safety of the tournament and making their presence known.”