Aging hockey players relive their youth at 55+ Wine Capital Hockey Tournament

Aging hockey players relive their youth at 55+ Wine Capital Hockey Tournament


Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

There might not be any slap shots or hitting, but the old-timers who play in the Wine Capital 55+ Hockey Tournament still like to get feisty.

“First time anyone every told me, ‘if you weren’t wearing pink I’d kick the sh-t out of you,’” Erik Gillette said about the other player who was sent to the penalty box at the same time as him.

Teasing each other is all part of staying young. After each game, players vote for the guy on the other team who they felt was most deserving of a prize, which was a big bottle of Firehall Brewery beer.

“You don’t quit ‘cause ya grow old – ya grow old once you quit,” one of the mature players said.

Gillette – who was called Pinko by his teammates – was a target for hazing as the only player on his team wearing pink, which he does because a large number of his family members are suffering from cancer or have died from it.

“Been sporting those colours for five years,” he said, before one of his teammates teased him for not washing it in all that time.

In their first game, Gillette’s team was down 2-0 early but managed to win it 4-2.

What did it take to come back and manage a victory?

“Scoring four goals,” they plainly stated.

But the scores don’t count for anything. There is no championship team or MVP, just three games of ice hockey over the course of three days.

“You just show up, they give you sweaters and put you on a team. And you make lots of new friends.”

To keep the teams balanced, players are evenly distributed based on a rating they give themselves on a scale of one to five.

“We have a couple fives here, like Charlie. And our other centreman. Those two guys are good. The rest of these guys are ones.”

Although you only have to be 55 to play, there was a millennia of experience between everybody involved. Some of the old-timers have been playing hockey for over 70 years.

“We’re still playing because we played all our lives, and we’re too stupid to do anything else.”