Minitonas Fifty Plus Hockey Finale

L-R Back Row; Faron Cook, Pat Morden, James Waldner, Greg Hunt, Eldon Hart, Carl Giesbrecht, Blair Mosiondz, Faron Genaille, Abel Gott, Bryon Fried, Lyle Eggie

Front: Kolton Leslie, Randy Mateika, Terry Fullerton, Marc Kunjumpa, Dennis Kalynuk, Jarret Gingras, George Oberlin, Steve Windsor, Henry Barkowski.

Missing: Doug Sagert, David Eggie, Jerry Copapay and Chris Cook

Submitted by: Henry Barkowski |

The fourteen week fifty plus hockey season came to a spirited conclusion on Monday, March 11, 2024 in the Minitonas Arena with 2 goalies and 17 skaters. With the loudspeakers blaring Stomping Tom’s “The Good Old Hockey Game” the boys warmed up for the final outing. Referee Kolton Leslie dropped the puck to start the spirited closely contested low scoring game. As they had done all season long , the red and black magic marbles were drawn to determine the Team Red and Team Black resulting in two evenly matched teams, confirming the efficacy of Kolmogorov’s axiomatic probability. One of the boys rigged a remote sensor to the goal lamps and they were only lit up for a two team total of 9 times, the season low. After 3 robust periods and goalie switches after each period, the boys posed for a photo and retired to the dressing room for showers, dressing and then to enjoy pizza, wings and some rehydration to celebrate another season of fun, fellowship and hockey.

Over the year there were 23 different players participating, with four missing for the finale.

The participation rate was 16 per game, allowing enough bench strength to facilitate high tempo games. Though there might be some decline in speed and agility, there certainly isn’t in passion and commitment. Guys investing in new skates, sticks and other equipment indicate they aspire to continue playing well into the future. Players range in age from 53- 75, with the median age of 66. Goalies are UFA , no not Unrestricted Free Agents but rather Unrestricted Free Ages. Some of the guys are retired while others are still active in the workforce. Among their group are four guys who have had heart attacks (none at games), two with knee replacements, one with double vision and the odd one with undiagnosed and medically unsubstantiated complaint of a sore something or other, although one seldom hears of it after a game. To watch them play you would never guess they had any serious medical interventions. Among them are a former junior, several intermediate and recreational players. They come from all over the Valley, from around Kenville, Big Woody, Little Woody, Sapotaweyak, Swan River and Minitonas. They’re from all walks of life and diverse ethnic groups and cultures blending nicely into a harmonious group united by the love of the game.

Ice time at the Minitonas Arena, home of the fastest ice anywhere, is at an enviable 7:15 pm each Monday starting in November. They start arriving shortly after 6 and linger until around 9-10 pm. Ironically it’s the older ones who tend to come first and leave last, wanting to savour each opportunity for as long as they can as any outing could be the last.

A big draw is the post game fellowship where there is a lot of cheerful banter, chatter and camaraderie. Some of the guys were either rivals or team mates in the Parkland League, playing with the Minitonas Hornets or the Swan River Imperials ,or in the Swan Valley Commercial and Recreational Leagues, or Old Timers circuits. So there is much opportunity for recollection and reflection surprisingly with only modest embellishment. Sometimes the chatter turns philosophical but never seriously political. Many fondly talk of the fun they had learning to play on ponds, ditches, rivers and outdoor rinks. Kind of like the fun they’re having now. They reminisce about school mates and team mates, often discovering that sadly they are no longer with us. Sadly, their most senior member, Garry “Duke” Kennedy, passed away earlier this year. They miss him dearly, thinking and speaking of him often, recalling great memories.

Fifty plus hockey was organized by Dennis Kalynuk back in 2010 to allow interested hockey players to continue playing as long as they had ability and desire.

There are over 500,000 Canadians playing 55 plus hockey. The boys are glad be part of that number. A few years ago, a couple of the boys travelled to Vernon, BC to participate in the Harvest Jamboree where about 150 guys from all over Canada and the USA, 55 years of age to 89,participated. There are 55 plus tournaments all over Canada and the USA.

Their motto: “ You don’t quit playing hockey because you get old,
You get old because you quit playing hockey.”

If you’re interested the boys will be glad to welcome you in November. See you then!