I am just recovering from 10 straight days of Senior Hockey play. No I did not play, but I am the host and there was a full round of duties for me. The tournament is a walk down memory lane for many of us as we renew friendships from years past and relive our favorite stories. This year the stories, in addition to being about Sparky, were about John Riley, Sr. as this is the first year he has not been at the tournament. One story from Canadian player, Gordon Robertson who has been attending the tournament for 35 years, showed me his beautiful scar beneath his eye that was stitched up by Dr. Bob Richardson, one of the Santa Rosa players who over the years put in many a stitch.
There were 8 teams in the 70 age bracket. That adds up to over 110 players on the ice plus coaches and assistants in just that division. The Continental 75s were (obviously) 75 and over, and many were over 80 but still playing in the 70 division. One of their players, Mark Sertich, celebrated his 92nd birthday during the tournament.
For many years we have had former National Hockey League players, and this year was no exception.. Red Berenson, formerly with the St Louis Blues and currently coach of the University of Michigan, played on the University of Michigan 65s. They played very well, going 3-0 to win gold. Another former NHL player, Terry Harper, played with the United Nations 50s. Jamie Kompon, back to back Stanley Cup Championship winner (this season as an Assistant Coach with the Chicago Blackhawks and in 2012 while on the staff of the Los Angeles Kings) played with the Redbarn Ice Dogs in the 40A division. Charlie Tickner, who I fondly remember skating in our Christmas Ice Show in a very touching number with his son, played on the Berkeley Bears team, proving that figure skaters can excel at hockey, too.
Santa Rosa fielded teams in several of the divisions. The Woodstock fliers in the 60 division ended a 10 year drought with a gold medal, and the Great Pumpkins followed their 2012 first ever Gold Medal with a Bronze Medal this tournament.
As I said in my opening remarks, this has always been a family friendly tournament with players bringing children and grandchildren. This year one team had 6 members of their family playing, and one team had a father-daughter combination.
The spirit of the tournament makes me very proud. I love the idea that each year we are remembering Sparky in such a concrete way, and I never tire of hearing the stories the players tell about him. So to any of the Arena staff who may read this blog, a big Thank You!
— Jean Schulz