NORTH DELTA â€” Most senior citizens who have gone through heart surgeries probably don’t put on pads and lace up their skates to go on the ice, but the Greater Vancouver Old-timer’s Hockey Association are putting those notions to rest.
The GVOHA has been around for about 38 years and held more than 500 games last season for players older than 50 years old.
Many of the players will be representing the districts they live in at the B.C. Seniors Games this week in Langley.
When the league started nearly four decades ago, the "old-timers" were any players older than 35.
Today, GVOHA has five age divisions (over-50s, over-60s, over-65s, over-70s and over-75s).Ralph Haugland, 76, is the divisional co-ordinator of the O-75 league and joined the association when he was 45 years old.
It was his idea to continuously add divisions as he grew older.
"It’s become a lifetime sport, like golf to some people. We don’t hit out there on purpose, but we still use our body," he said. "We don’t want to hurt you."
Haugland, who used to play junior A hockey in Vancouver, says that there is a new team every year.
"Hockey is a hell of a game in that it’s not just a physical wash, it’s a mental wash.
You can’t worry about what happened at work or at home. You have to worry about putting the puck in the net," Haugland said.
Bob Montgomery, the president of the association, is one of the players going to the Seniors Games.
Three months ago, he broke his sternum, but says that it won’t stop him from competing because it’s "just a great release."
Last week, some of the divisions held their annual draft to set the rosters for each team.Montgomery, 70, said it allows everyone to play alongside each other and keeps the teams competitive.
"It’s just great because on the one hand, if you and I are always playing against each other, I might think you’re a bit of an idiot. Then all of a sudden we’re playing together and you realize he’s not a bad guy after all. The animosity is pretty much gone," he said.
"You get to realize that that enemy you thought was such a jerk, isn’t such a jerk after all. Or if he is a jerk, he’s a good jerk because now he’s on your team. You’d rather play with him than against him," added Haugland.
Tanya Orcutt is the assistant manager at Boomers Bar Grill and knows most of the oldtimers on a first-name basis.
The restaurant is above the rinks at Planet Ice in North Delta, where some of the divisions play their games.
She said she can’t help but admire them, even if she has to "get up on a chair and yell at them" to calm them down.
"You hear about the scuffles on the ice during their hockey games and everything and they come up here and it’s all good. They just get along and it’s just a great atmosphere," she said.
"These guys are late 60s and 70s. It’s amazing that they still can do that. You look up to them for that," added Orcutt.
The Langley Seniors Games take place from Sept. 9 to 13.
Anyone looking to get involved with the GVOHA can email email@example.com.