We’re going back….way back….all the way back to Halloween 2011.
For this weeks Throwback Thursday we’re going to keep it in the family for the Halloween edition with a hockey twist. It was October 30, 2011 and my little 4 year old nephew Owen was pumped about the spiderman costume he was going to wear the next day. A little too excited. He was literally bouncing around the rec room displaying his natural ability to shoot webs from his wrists and subsequently end up at that location that his energy and exuberance got the better of him. A one foot wide table/bar, placed against the back of the couch would be little spidey’s undoing. As he tried to pull himself onto this table he so recently caught with his webs, the narrow bar leaned back until it overcame Owen, knocking him on his back and landing right smack on his tiny, tiny nose.
The result was less than pleasant and young Owen was rushed to the hospital with a broken nose, a small cut requiring some stitches and a couple of beautiful shiners. And the worse thing was, his face was too sore to wear the spiderman mask. Luckily Owen comes from a family with a rich history of bloody noses and black eyes. He comes from a hockey family and soon the tragedy was turned to triumph as the red and blue spidey costume was replaced with the red, gold, black and white of an Ottawa Senators jersey, and just like that, a hockey goon was born.
Canadian Hockey Enterprises
It was a beautiful afternoon in Canmore when I approached a group of campers playing basketball outside the high school. As I like to do at the end of each week, I casually asked the group of 10 – 13 year olds what their favorite part of the week was, and was shocked by their response. “The lecture” replied one girl immediately. “Yeah! The lecture on Tuesday with Caroline Ouellette.” replied another. Meeting an idol like Caroline Ouellette can be exciting for sure, but this week of camp in the rockies included 15 hours of on-ice instruction from some of the worlds best female players, fun games on and off the ice, nature hikes along the Bow River, a camp talent contest and even some white water rafting. What on earth did Caro talk about that trumped all of that? “She told us about how important it is to work hard in school so we can play at a good University.” they told me. Now that’s confusing!
My realization that I don’t understand kids notwithstanding, the story made me think about the grander issue at play. As a director of Just for Girls hockey camps, I’m constantly doing comparisons between the girls and guys hockey and one thing I’ve noticed this year separates the two completely, and it’s about giving back. The best female players make a point of giving back to the sport that gives them notoriety and the best example is Caroline Ouellette, or Caro as she’s known by her teammates.
3 Olympic Golds, 5 World Championships, 2 Clarkson Cups and an astounding NCAA career that leaves her 10th in all-time scoring. There’s nothing Caroline has to prove to anyone at this point, she’ll go down as one of the best to ever play, and yet she’s still so driven. As I arrived in Canmore to set up the camp, she was biking 125 km with 300 others to raise money for Right to Play. The next day she was on the ice instructing, but taking time after practice to pose for some photos and sign some autographs. You’d think with a resume like hers she’d tell people about all the great things she’s done, but instead, she talks about the kids; their future and the importance of education.
Caro is just one example in a sea of motivating and inspiring people that compete in ladies hockey. Where the high level men tend to hide in their mansions and on their private golf courses, the ladies are out there each summer, teaching, mentoring, and helping to grow the sport that they themselves created. By sharing their love for the game with the campers, they’re ensuring the future of women’s hockey and I can tell you for sure that it’s only going to get better.
Canadian Hockey Enterprises
The two best things about working for Canadian Hockey Enterprises are the fantastic places we get to travel to, and seeing how passionate people are about hockey. It doesn’t matter if I’m witnessing the joy on a girls face as she gets chased around the ice by Meghan Agosta, or the massive smile on the face of the captain of a men’s’ team when we present the Lefty Wilson Championship trophy, the passion and excitement is the same and it’s inspiring. But like anything, when you’re constantly surrounded by it you tend to not notice it.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I peeked out at the game on Rink 2 at Isatis Sport Chambly on April 26th to watch The Cowboys from Barrie take on Strange Brew from Newcastle in the opening game of the 35+ division. Both teams had been to Montreal before and there wasn’t anything particularly special about the game, except for the player wearing number 5 for the Cowboys. Dave Gillham has a great stride and plays a sounds positional game on D, but as a member of Strange Brew breaks down his wing, Dave throws himself on the ice and takes out puck and player. Not the most graceful play, but he gets the job done.
You see, Dave had an electrocution accident at work and lost both of his arms, a setback that would have stopped most people from playing any sports at all, but not Dave. A lifelong player, Dave had to basically learn the game from scratch and luckily he had a great group of guys to help him do that. In the words of his captain Leonard Del Duca “he is my HERO!”, and the rest of the Cowboys feel the same and are more than happy to have on the team. A couple of guys help him get dressed before the game, and when they pass to Dave they have to make sure to follow the pass so Dave can get it back to them just like a soccer play. He blocks shots, chases down players and will literally throw himself in the way of anything if it will help the team.
And help the team he did as the Cowboys went on to win the Holiday Inn Midtown Championship trophy, but the true winners that weekend was anyone who had a chance to speak with Dave and his teammates. That kind of passion for hockey combined with the camaraderie of his teammates and opponents was inspiring to everyone in Montreal that weekend. You can read a more thorough article on Dave’s journey here and a great 16:9 video here.
Canadian Hockey Enterprises
Its spring again in Canada and with the anticipation of exchanging our jackets and boots for shorts and sandals it’s always a great time of year for us as Canadians. The snow is melting, the neighbourhood streets are full of people and although the hockey season might be over, there are plenty of sports on TV to keep us occupied. The NCAA March Madness and NHL playoffs are action packed, baseball is back and the Masters always reminds us that golf season is just around the corner. But there’s one sport that caught my eye this spring like never before; The Women’s World Hockey Championships, and the future of women’s hockey is bright.
In front of a crowd of over 18,000 screaming fans in Ottawa, the US and Canadian Women’s national teams put on the most exciting hockey game I’ve watched all year. Continue reading
As the owner of CHE I was joined by our celeb staff Gilles Gilbert, former NHL All Star goalie, and Adam Collins, former European star player, in Canada’s Capital City and I enjoyed the weekend as much as the participants. The U of Ottawa double rink ice was amazing, the NHL game between the Sens and Tampa Bay was a hit and the tournament games and divisions were close. The first teams to arrive were the boys from Uxbridge and Sudbury who rolled into Ottawa in their own buses ready to rock! And they ROCKED!
The Sudbury team had a very inspirational player who was a former pro and Sudbury Wolve. This former Sudbury Wolves captain had 87 points in the 1995-96 season and broke his leg in 2008 as a professional. 3 years later he had to make the decision to amputate or live in pain. Check his story here.
Way to go Sean it was a pleasure meeting you.
Paul Crowley-President CHE
As a local business Canadian Hockey Enterprises was thrilled to be a part of the Hockey Day weekend here in Peterborough. For any of you who were fortunate enough to witness this year’s Hockey Day in Canada on CBC you can clearly understand why the day was so exciting. Seeing hundreds of kids playing pond hockey on a perfect afternoon in front of the iconic Liftlocks brought out the passion for hockey that burns inside everyone who’s ever played the game. Passion is what CHE is all about and with hockey camps and tournaments for men, women, boys and girls; believe us when we say that Hockey is alive and thriving!