It has a long and, “storied,” history, the local commercial hockey league, and some of the stories will be retold enthusiastically next Saturday when alumni gather at the Rex Hotel for a reunion. Since most of the attendees live within minutes of each other it won’t be as if they haven’t met for a while, but this meeting will be, organizers hope, focused on past glories, such as they may have seemed.
C’mon, most of those attending will know little beyond their personal experience of what was once known as The Sunday Morning League – a strong incubator for many provincial intermediate championship teams, and once the training ground for most of Trail’s multiple junior provincial champions – and hyperbole will fly. There may be one or two instances of, “Fish,” stories to go along multiple examples of, “fish stories,” (often inflated recollections of exploits of yore) being passed around.
Don’t get me wrong. Not a few of those gathering (2 p.m., Rex) have considerable hockey accomplishments including provincial, interprovincial and even national titles at levels from minor to senior amateur and even professional hockey, on their sporting resumes. That, too, will be in the conversation mix, but it is likely past local collaborations, and rivalries, will dominate the chatter.
Very few, perhaps only one, of the participants will have personal memories extending as far back as the days when the Shoe Shop (itself long gone from Bay Avenue) squad was the dominant team at the commercial level, but it says something that the league is still going strong after a history which began before the opening of Cominco Arena. They will all, however, have their own recollections of spirited (and, “spirited,”) competition that allowed them to extend their playing careers beyond their athletic primes.
Lefty (Field) is back in town, and appears to have been the inspirational force behind the event, and Mo the Owner has details as well. If you have a few hours next Saturday and partook of the pleasures of Commercial League play, you should go.
• Meanwhile, the Smokies embark on their last serious road swing – the results of which will go a long way towards determining their post-season prospects – tonight. Their next home game, the beginning of a 10 at home, five on the road, season finish, will be a week Sunday. Here’s hoping attendance will be bolstered by many of the former Smoke Eaters attending the Commercial League reunion a day earlier.
And the Nitehawks, so dominant through the pre-holiday period, will begin Saturday, at the Hawks’ Nest, trying to re-acquire the quality of play they maintained for a month before a recent slide brought them back a bit towards the pack in the Neil Murdoch Division.
Welcome to 2016.