Senior players take to outdoor ice during pandemic

February 18, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

A group of senior hockey players have found a new venue for their weekly games of shinny after local arenas had to close due to the pandemic. 

The group, dubbed the Mad Hatters, meet three times a week at the outdoor arena at Mono Centre for a friendly morning game. 

They used to play indoors at Orangeville arenas, but when the arenas closed they moved over to the big ice surface at Teen Ranch. 

They were only able to play two games there before that venue also had to close. Not wanting to give up a year of hockey, they started looking for somewhere else to play. They found the rink in Mono with posted times allowed for hockey. 

All the players in the group are age 65 or older. The steady group that plays on the Mono outdoor ice are all over 70 years old. 

Organizer, Mark Bates, took the Mad Hatters to compete in the Senor Canada Games in Saint John, New Brunswick in 2018. They left with the silver medal. 

“The town closed us down this year,” Mr. Bates explained. “We played at Tony Rose and Alder street for eight or nine years. So I got 20 dedicated guys and we rented Teen Ranch and we only got two games in then we got kicked out of there because of COVID. We had 20 guys and a couple of goalies. We went to Shelburne and got four games in – then we got kicked out of there. Once I found this outdoor rink I contacted some of the guys and they said ‘yeah, let’s do it.’ I heard about it so drove up to see it and thought, wow, this nice.” 

Fellow Mad Hatter, Dave Dyce said they really appreciate the fact that the Town of Mono has provided an ice surface. 

“It’s fantastic for everybody to just get out and get some exercise in these days of COVID,” he said. “It’s great to get outside. I started playing hockey in Orangeville 65 years ago. 

The outdoor rink has a sign posted for days and times when hockey is allowed. The rink is maintained and managed by local resident volunteers. 

The ice surface is quite impressive for an outdoor venue. The surface is flat and well maintained and is big enough for a game with boards surrounding the ice. 

For the senior players, the chance to get outside and play some shinny gives them some exercise while playing the game they love. 

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