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Poor rink ice couldn't stop U-75 hockey league from having a good time

The U-75 division of the Afternoon Hockey League holds its annual Outdoor Classic hockey match at the Moose Square outdoor rink once each year, but this year's match had to be cancelled due to warm weather

For only the second time in over a decade, players on the U-75 Afternoon Hockey Old Timer’s League were left scratching their heads as they arrived at the Moose Square outdoor rink to find the ice for the annual Outdoor Classic match was unfit to play on.

“This is the second year we’ve had to cancel because of the ice conditions,” said Dave Mowrey, the assistant manager of the Afternoon Hockey League (AHL).

The first cancellation happened around three or four years back during a similar period of warm weather.

Despite colder weather on the forecast, the conditions never stuck around long enough to improve the ice conditions.

“There were holes in the ice and there was water on the ice – it was a mess.”

Described by Mowrey as “a beer league sort of thing,” the AHL meets regularly for practices held at the Moose Jaw Events Centre. The league is not competitive, and Mowrey confirmed that it’s open to anyone in the community.

To cover the basics, the league supplies goaltenders and pucks, so all you have to do is show up with your basic gear, skates, and a hockey stick.

The league used to focus on morning hockey matches, and then switched over to afternoon games. Ever since the league moved from the old Civic Centre, the afternoon game format had stuck.

Today, the league has two practices each week with the younger players and two days with the U-75 group. Younger players practice on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the older players practice on Mondays and Thursdays.

The annual Outdoor Classic started roughly 11 years ago when the team moved to the new Events Centre.

“Family Day came along, so we (the older boys) missed out on one of our Mondays… The guys said, ‘Hey, we should do something.’” Mowrey decided to have an outdoor match instead, and that was when the Outdoor Classic was born.

The Outdoor Classic always takes place at the Moose Square outdoor rink, as per tradition.

This started when a couple players were living in the area and suggested the location. The City of Moose Jaw told Mowrey there were about six or seven outdoor rinks that are bigger than normal, and Moose Square was one of them.

“I went over and looked at it, and said, ‘This is perfect for us.’”

The rink is also conveniently located, as any gear can be easily transported between the Events Centre and the Moose Square outdoor rink.

“We sort of adopted that rink as our ‘home away from home,’ I guess you could call it,” Mowrey said.

“The guys said, ‘Oh, we could move to a nicer rink,’ and I said, ‘That’s all we deserve!’”

The Outdoor Classic match takes place on one designated day each year once the team gets together to set a date. If the date is missed – as it was this week – the traditional game does not re-schedule.

Still, the team made the most of the situation.

“A few of the guys got together and we just sat around and talked about the old times… so, it was a good time anyway,” Mowrey said in good spirits.

As the Outdoor Classic isn’t about competition, and there are no prizes or accolades on the line, the setback didn’t come as a major let-down for the AHL.

“It’s just a lot of fun, and it’s just shinny. Whoever shows up plays, and it’s mostly just a good time.”

The team is now continuing to practice on their allotted afternoons, and everyone is looking forward to next year’s event – so long as weather conditions remain co-operative.

For more information about the Afternoon Hockey Old Timer’s League, assistant organizer Dave Mowrey can be reached at 306-690-5695.

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