By Lyle Carter
It's well known in local sports circles what has been taking place for many years on Wednesday afternoons at Colchester Legion Stadium in Truro.
Ron MacKenzie, second from left, has been playing Wednesday afternoon hockey for about 50 years. Also in an early-day photo are Duncan Randall, Ron MacCormack and Billy McIntyre.
A group of senior men take to the ice each week at 2 p.m. for a friendly game of hockey. And they really enjoy themselves.
"We often refer to it as ‘Speed Hockey' on Wednesday afternoons," Darrell Wright, one of the regulars, said. "The players often call Ron MacKenzie ‘Speed.' That's where the name ‘Speed Hockey' comes from."
Wright, originally from Cole Harbour, has been living in Brookfield since 2007.
"That's when I started playing hockey with Ron and a great bunch of guys. Ron is a fine guy and has been organizing this hockey for a long time. He works hard trying to keep this hockey going and he is sincere in keeping the teams even and everyone having a lot of fun."
Wright said MacKenzie handles many chores, which might at times be taken for granted.
"He collects the money and looks after paying the stadium," Wright said. "Ron is on the telephone to players advising of a cancellation due to a storm. He organizes our Christmas party and our year-end closing. Ron looks after refreshments for after our games. On the ice, Ron always enjoys himself. He'll centre a line and everything is pointed to having a lot of fun. The Wednesday afternoon players definitely appreciate Ron MacKenzie.
"Another thing, there's always a lot of laughter. The kidding that goes on, especially in the dressing, room is something else."
Charlie Fox, who played three seasons with the Acadia Axemen during the 1960s, looks forward to playing on Wednesday afternoons.
"I've been playing with Ron and the guys for 15 years," Fox, 69, of Truro, said. "This is how I first met Ron. I think all the guys realize and appreciate the work Ron puts into Wednesday afternoon hockey. I've heard a lot of good comments about the job Ron has done over the years. It's great to see Ron get so much out of playing himself. He has as much fun as any of us out there. It really is a heck of a good time."
MacKenzie, who's life has never swayed far from sports, began playing Wednesday afternoon hockey during the mid 1960s.
"This hockey has a long history," MacKenzie, 82, of Truro, said. "It was called ‘Billy Hockey' back in the beginning. It was named in honour of former Truro Bearcats player Billy McIntyre, who started it. I was invited out by Elwin Little. That would be around 50 years ago. Billy McIntyre was still in good shape and I remember Ron MacCormack, Cecil Caudle, Gerry Pender, Duncan Randall and quite a few other good hockey players who played during the early years."
With the passing of McIntyre, MacKenzie began looking after organizational aspects.
"It was important to keep Wednesday afternoon hockey going," MacKenzie said. "The players were having so much fun. One enjoyment I often get is when a former player will come up to me on the street and remind me of when he played. I'll be honest, it's really hard to recognize players. There have been so many of them. I doubt there are many hockey players around Truro today who played with as many players as I have?"
MacKenzie said play just recently wrapped up for this season.
"We had some rough days, some stormy days, a few cancellations," MacKenzie explained. "But usually we still had 15 to 18 guys come out. Sometimes, players going south made us a little shorthanded. Overall though, we had a great group in the dressing room and we were our usual selves having a lot of fun out there on the ice."
MacKenzie is noticeably proud of the group of enthusiastic Wednesday afternoon hockey players and he said plans are to continue the ritual.
"I plan to come back next year and so do most of the players," MacKenzie said. "We have a lot of fun together and I still feel I'm skating well for my age. There's no way you can beat the cameraderie we get from Wednesday afternoon hockey. I want to see it keep going."
Lyle Carter's sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.