Oldtimers lace up for the 34th year

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Terry Arnold, taking to the ice with his Shore Mariners from Eastern Passage.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Time out &#8212; Terry Arnold (left) and Gary Sampson of the Shore Mariners of Eastern Passage take a break.</p>
  • <p>Gary Lohnes (left), organizer of the tournament, and Randy Boutilier of the Spry Harbour Whalers. Boutilier has been playing in the tournament ever since it began 34 years ago.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Goalie Matt Baird of the Shore Mariners of Eastern Passage.</p>
  • <p>Marcus Noel from the Bridgewater Rusty Blades.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTOS</p><p>About 100 players from eight teams across Nova Scotia participated in the 34th annual Lohnes Lumbermen Oldtimers Recreational Hockey Weekend at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle January 13 and 14.</p>

They're not old-timers in the true sense of the word.

But the 100 or so men aged 35 to 62 who descended on the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre January 13 and 14 for the 34th annual Lohnes Lumbermen Oldtimers Recreational Hockey Weekend proved you don't have to be a spring chicken to strap on some skates and enjoy a good game on the ice.

And they intend to keep coming back, according to Gary Lohnes, the organizer of the friendly tournament.

Given the chance, he himself would have wound it down long ago.

Twenty years after he established the competition in 1984, Lohnes says he told himself, 'That's it. I'm done. However the players weren't having anything of it.

"The teams said, 'No. We're coming. You better have referees and so on.'We're coming to book. '

"So I made an agreement with them: as long as they keep coming, I'll keep putting it on," Lohnes said .

He says the average age of the players is between 45 and 48. The oldest player n this year's tournament was 62.

The teams themselves have been coming anywhere from 24 to 34 years.

"Like, they've really got to get a life," he says chuckling.

Starting out with 12 teams, the tournament has had as many as 32 with about 500 players, which were spread out between the rinks in Chester, Lunenburg, Bridgewater and Liverpool.

As players got older and moved on, the teams numbers were amended until Lohnes had the number down to the current eight.

According to Lohnes, his Oldtimers tournament is the oldest one in Nova Scotia, although he says Sydney can take credit for having the biggest tournament, the Vince Ryan Memorial hockey tournament, with more than 100 teams.

"They claim to be the oldest. They also claim to be the first one to have female divisions. They're wrong on both occasions, and I've sent them emails to correct them," he says.

The teams in this year's Oldtimer's Weekend were from Bridgewater , Digby, Barrington,Wolfiville, two from Halifax and two from Eastern Passage.

AuCoin Locksmith from Halifax was the winner of the tournament.

Brian Collins scored just over two minutes into the overtime, for a 2-1 win over Welshtown Hurricanes from Barrington. The Bridgewater Rusty Blades were lead by a two- goal performance by Andrew Zinck to defeat the Acadia Oldtimers from Wolfville 3- 1 in the consolation game.

Lohnes says all the teams have made arrangements to return for the 2019 Oldtimers Weekend.

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