The Oliver & District Arena, one of the first recreation facilities built in the South Okanagan, is 50 years old. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the grand opening back in February 1969 and kick off a year-long celebration of this special milestone, Oliver Parks and Recreation is hosting the Montreal Canadiens Alumni Tour for a special charity hockey game this Friday, Feb. 8.
Following a special opening ceremony and puck drop involving local dignitaries, surviving members of the original Building Committee and the singing of our national anthem by Kyah Allen, the Montreal Canadiens Alumni will face off against the Oliver Big Horns for three periods of Canada’s favourite game.
The local team name was chosen to pay homage to the players who proudly wore the Big Horns jersey for many years at the Oliver Arena, even representing Oliver on an international tour to Sweden and Finland in 1984. Five of the players who will take the ice on Friday against the Habs were a part of this original team: Mike “Johnsy” Johnson, Jim “Chicken Jim” Stanley, Bryan “Brimy” Brimacomb, Larry “Dusty” MacFadden and Tom “Fortchy” Fortune. They will be joined by 13 local hockey players and two coaches representing a wide range of ages and hockey experience, all with one thing in common: a love for the game of hockey and the Oliver Arena. These players all contributed financially for the experience of playing against the ex-NHL greats, and Oliver Parks and Recreation is grateful for their support. To view the complete Big Horns and Montreal Canadiens Alumni rosters, visit Oliver Parks and Recreation website www.oliverrecreation.ca.
Game-goers can also expect souvenir sales, intermission contests and activities, beverage sales featuring Firehall Brewery craft beer, the famous poutine and other treats from the Lion’s Club concession and memorabilia displays from many years of sport at the arena.
South Okanagan Minor Hockey pre-novice players will be taking the ice immediately following the first period for a special skate with the Canadiens.
Oliver Parks and Recreation is grateful for the generous support they received from the local business community to help to cover the costs of bringing the Montreal Canadiens Alumni tour to Oliver and throwing a 50th anniversary party.
Another three local hockey players purchased a “Thrill of a Lifetime” experience to play alongside the Montreal Canadiens Alumni team for the game on Friday. Ron Doucette, Derek Ruck and Dean Maynard will don Canadiens jerseys for the game and face off against their peers.
“I’m not sure when the last time the arena reached the kind of capacity we expect on Friday,” says organizer Carol Sheridan, “but Oliver sure came through on selling out this event and it will be a really special celebration of just how much this facility means to the community.”
Any proceeds from the event will go towards much-needed capital improvements to the arena. Although the building structure itself has at least 25 years of life remaining, the brine lines and concrete slab that make up the secondary cooling system and ice surface have reached end of life and are prematurely failing. The arena washrooms, dressing rooms and public spaces lack accessibility and need updating, plus the original wood bleachers, stairs and hand rails up to the mezzanine level present concerns that need to be addressed.
A concept design and budget to address these concerns as well as other potential improvements to the facility are currently being developed and will be on display throughout the year for the community to review. The work is tentatively scheduled for 2021, dependent on project funding.
For more information about the event or the Oliver & District Arena facility please contact Carol Sheridan, Manager of Parks and Recreation, at 250-498-4985 or firstname.lastname@example.org.