Monday, 16 January 2012

Royals Vanguard Practice

The Royals with hockey players in Vanguard
Top-Todd Hornung, Patrick Marleau
Marc Habscheid took his players out for a unique practice on Monday, to a vintage, small community run rink in Vanguard Saskatchewan.   Located 20 miles south and 20 miles east of Swift Current with a population of 180, the town has produced such players as Todd Hornung and Patrick Marleau. 

Vintage Vanguard Crest
With rosy cheeks, red ears and noses, the players took to the ice with much anticipation, ready for their taste of a truly Canadian hockey experience.

With no heating (a balmy –32), the chilly, almost 60 year old rink brought back fond memories for the head coach and GM of the Royals.

“I think for myself personally a lot of the passion for game really grew from towns like this, and just playing for the love of the game – you just throw on a toque and some gloves and you go out and play, and you’re never cold because your doing something you love.”

Marc even allowed some aspiring hockey players to skate with the club after practice for a giant game of shinny. 
Local players skate with the Royals after practice.
Ben Walker plays shinny
“It’s kind of the fiber of hockey, I really think it’s important for these guys to see this and experience this…they read about it and see it but, a lot of these guys haven’t been in towns with rinks like this that mean so much to their community, that really keep the community afloat…”

In classic pond hockey style, the club wore different colored socks on their heads to signify which team they were on (that or to warm their ears).

“…gives them a chance to see what grass roots hockey is really about, and why and how the game was played in small town Saskatchewan.”

Steven Hodges put on a stick handling clinic, as Ben Walker zipped around in a massive game of keep away.  Keith Hamilton stacked the pads while the youngsters tried to fire pucks over top.
Victoria's Brandon Magee & Robin Soudek

Afterwards they signed autographs and all warmed up with some of the best hot chocolate and poutine around.

With a big smile frozen on his face, assistant coach Ben Cooper wimpered that his eyes were watering.  He wore a toque the entire time.

“The neat thing was you could hear everyone skating” said assistant Coach Enio Sacilotto in regards the acoustics with the curved walls so close to the ice. “It was lots of fun, good to get back to the grass roots of hockey.”

For those keeping count, a Large Coffee was just $1.25.  Now that's keeping it real.

Victoria plays in Swift Current Tuesday night, Moose Jaw Wednesday and wrap up 6 games in 9 nights Friday and Saturday with stops in Prince Albert and Saskatoon.

Listen here to Marc Habscheid's interview:

The rink in Vanguard, Saskatchewan