The Old Timers Hockey Association is looking for players and increased community support this year to help keep the Rolf Zeis Memorial Arena open.
Newly appointed president Matt Giroday said the Lac La Hache arena primarily relies on revenue generated by the association – along with other subsidies – and he fears it may have to close and never reopen if they are unable to support it this year. He is hopeful that by raising awareness more people will sign up to play in the league, set to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Giroday said they are looking for a minimum of 48 players this year and four goalkeepers for the league, which will play two nights a week on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The registration deadline is set for Oct. 8
“We’re looking to get a good core group of guys established as far as playing games go,” he said. “We have refs in place, timekeepers and a score guy.”
The Old Timers league started in 2003 and has been going for about 17 years. The 35-plus league is technically co-ed but is based on a draft system, Giroday said. “We try to draft as many teams as we can, usually four to six, and we’re hoping to just keep a minimum of four teams (this year).”
Giroday, who was formerly the vice-president of the association, has been in the league since 2016 and said is excited to run it this year. He said it’s a good group of guys to play and socialize with, as it’s not all just about the hockey. Typically most of the players are between the ages of 45 to 65, though he said they did have a player retire from the league last year who was 78.
He said people should consider signing up for the league as there aren’t many other arenas nearby and it’s important to keep the facility viable and supporting the Lac La Hache Rec Society, which runs it. If it does shut down, Giroday said, it will just become an old skeleton in the community. That aside, he said the league is a great place to meet people and form friendships while getting good physical activity.
As far as COVID-19 goes, Giroday said they’ve submitted a plan that covers all their bases and adheres to the current guidelines. Safety on and off the ice is their top priority, he said, and taking care of their players is something he takes seriously.
The registration fee for the year is $450 which equals 30 games plus playoffs. Part-time is $350 and goaltenders pay $300. The fees have been raised this year due to everything going on in the world and because Giroday said this year is a “make-it-or-break-it year.”
“We have great times. In 100 Mile, we would not have these prime ice times available to us, especially during the weekdays. When you compare what we get for the price, it’s a great deal,” Giroday said. “So come out and support what we do have available to us (right now).”