By Rob Saunders
Senior hockey is alive and well in Huntsville, as evidenced by recent games at the Ontario Senior Games.
The 2024 edition of the games was held in Orillia from February 6 to 8e. Held every two years somewhere in Ontario, the Games support competition between competitors aged 55 and over in many events, from skiing and hockey to curling, table tennis and even doubles bridge.
Teams from across Ontario represent various districts and compete for the right to represent Ontario in a number of future competitions across Canada.
Huntsville has had an active Senior Men's Shinny Hockey group for over 20 years. It was started by a handful of senior skaters who played a few times a week. Founders like the late Doug Barnes, Bill Kennedy, Fred Houck, Rick Warren and Laverne Reynolds should be recognized for their perseverance in getting the puck rolling. There were a lot of early days with four skaters on the side and no goalies. Over the years, the group has grown to its current size, with three different age groups, 55+, 65+ and 70+, with more than a hundred participants. Before each game, jersey colors are assigned in all divisions so that all players mingle and no cliques arise. The emphasis is on fun and exercise, but a healthy dose of competition is added once the puck drops. How inspiring is it that Dave Malette, 83 years young, still travels to Huntsville three to four times a week to skate with 70+ and occasionally 65+ players?
In 2020, the 65+ players formed a team to compete in the Ontario Senior Games hosted in Huntsville. That team advanced to the championship game and lost to a team from Georgetown in the finals.
When the 2024 Ontario Senior Games in Orillia were announced, both the 55+ and 70+ shiny players decided to register a team. The 55+ team went through the round-robin portion of the tournament undefeated, but came up against a very strong Brampton team in the final and ultimately earned a silver medal.
The 70+ group also earned a Silver Medal, but did it in a different way. After losing their opening game 5-2 against Brampton, they won their next two games against teams from the Owen Sound and Windsor districts. That put them into the final where they again lost 1 to 0 to Brampton, in a very tight, tense match. Both Brampton teams are competitive traveling tournament teams and it is commendable that both Huntsville pick-up teams represented themselves as well as they did.
By earning their silver medal, both teams are now qualified to compete in this year's Canada Senior Games, which will be held in Quebec City from August 27 to 30.e.
Will the Huntsville teams rise to the challenge and come back with a medal from the Quebec competition? Well, save that for another story.
The 55+ team also took home silver at the Ontario Senior Games in Orillia. (Submitted photo).
Adrian Musters, local dentist and goalkeeper who started scoring goals at the age of fifty, together with Dave Mallette. Dave is in his early 80s and still participates several times a week.
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