September 20, 2016

Silver anniversary a season-long Heritage Classic

Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s milestone silver anniversary will be a season-long Heritage Classic.

Beginning with the opening of training camp on Oct. 2, through to the final regular season game in April, any roadster who’s felt the sting of the evil orange plastic ball off their shins on a Sunday morning will be welcomed to join the regular weekly game at the venerable court that has served as the league’s home base for most of its 25 years.

That lineup includes illustrious stars from the league’s formative years like Goaltending Stalwart Wawrow, Scooter, Teal Stick, Philderama and Sexboy through to renowned veterans like Lobsterboy, Sniper Dave, Lumberjack, Paul One and Hired Gun.

As players respond to the open invitation to recapture their road hockey glory, the game’s current generation will be able to connect to the league’s storied past, said fellow founding father, the Living Legend.

“Every player who’s stepped into this court and been granted a nickname has helped build the game to where it is today,” he said. “There’s not a lot of road hockey games that last this long; everyone deserves their moment.”

Sunday Morning Road Hockey began in the fall of 1991 when a group of local media colleagues placed some boots at either end of a tennis court and chased around the evil orange plastic ball for exercise. They had so much fun, the games became more frequent, and players started inviting friends and friends of friends. The original media contingent was joined by teachers, engineers, students, a social worker. It was hard to keep everyone’s name straight, so they were issued nicknames.

The game’s formative years were restless, moving from the tennis court to a lacrosse box before finally settling in at the concrete hockey court on the roof of an underground parkade behind a newly rebuilt elementary school. It’s been there ever since, a staple of the neighbourhood’s weekly routine.

One spring someone showed up with a broken hockey stick wrapped in tinfoil and declared it the prize for the season’s final game, the Stanley Stick. Eventually it became a proper trophy with a bowl for chugging champagne.

Other traditions evolved; the Shrimp Ring Bowl to welcome the new year, a midsummer game to renew acquaintances during the off-season.

Generations of players have come and gone. Some succumbed to time pressures and growing family obligations. Some lost interest or invested their energy in other sports. Some moved away to pursue their education or new job opportunities; a legendary goalie is now a sports reporter for the Association Press in Buffalo; another charter player, Sweater Vest, is the communications director for the Mayor of Los Angeles; a more recent recruit was elected to Parliament in the last federal election.

Some years attendance has been better than others. When the commitment of players flags doubt creeps in about the game’s continued existence. But then a new recruit shows up; he tells a couple of friends and renewed life has been breathed back into Sunday mornings.

It’s hard to say how many people have played Sunday Morning Road Hockey over the years; some stopped by just once and moved on before they could ever be bestowed a nickname, a few have been chasing the evil orange plastic ball for two decades or more. But all will be welcomed at the court to renew acquaintances and make new ones, in the enduring spirit of the league.

Sunday Morning Road Hockey training camp exhibition games will be played Oct. 2 and 9. The regular season opens Oct. 16.

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:26 AM | Comments (5)