The Oldtimers Hockey Association (OTHA) is looking forward to getting back to a normal season of hockey.
OTHA member Matt Giroday said they play as an internal league of four teams complete with “a full regular season plus playoffs.”
The league itself has been going since the early 2000s, he said.
Player range in age from as young as 30 to as old as 80 with members driving from Williams Lake down and 70 Mile House to compete.
Games were first played in both 100 Mile House and the Rolf Zeis Memorial Arena in Lac La Hache.
When the league became aware that the Rolf Zeis Memorial Arena was running on a shoestring budget and in danger of closing, so the decision was made to move all the games to Lac La Hache to help keep the arena doors open.
An unintentional trade-off of the move was the Oldtimers league has a bit more leeway in terms of ice times and days of the week; they can open and close as needed when the teams are there.
Many of the players have played organized hockey at some point in their lives, said Giroday, so they are familiar with the game. But due to the age range, there is no body checking or slapshots allowed.
They operate under the CARHAR hockey platform in terms of rules, conduct etc.
“We have a core group of refs but they are getting older as well. Also, (we) have new guys too who play and ref and we do sometimes pick up the 100 Mile House Wranglers to come out and ref games too,” he said.
“We pay pretty good. We pay $50 per game to be a ref for an hour, maybe an hour and a half of ice time.”
They have a doubleheader every Tuesday and Thursday so anyone who comes out to ref usually refs both games making it worth their time, he said, calling it “$100 and a bit of exercise.”
Giroday said it is a mixed bag of playing for fun and competitiveness.
For the most part, the guys are just out having fun and getting exercise. He said there is a degree of competition as they keep track of stats, season wins and losses that carry forward into how the playoffs are executed.
They play for a league champion every year.
“It’s a great league. We have really good executives that sit on our board, obviously all volunteer time, even putting in the ice,” he said.
The draft takes place this week with the season starting the second week of November. If anybody wants to play they are more than welcome to come out regardless of their skill level.
Admission to the games is free and all are welcome to come out and cheer the teams on or get involved in whatever way suits a person best.