Still go­ing

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - BY DAVE KEARSEY david.kearsey@thewest­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_S­port­sDesk

Alex Blan­chard isn’t let­ting age slow him down.

If there wasn’t a buzzer to sig­nal the end of a hockey game Alex Blan­chard would prob­a­bly keep skat­ing un­til some­body told him enough was enough.

It would be hard to say if he would stop then.

Blan­chard, a McIver’s na­tive and Cor­ner Brook res­i­dent who will turn 70 in Fe­bru­ary, was in­ducted into the New­found­land and Labrador Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007 in the player cat­e­gory af­ter a stel­lar ca­reer with the Cor­ner Brook Roy­als.

The re­tired city fire­fighter claimed Herder rings in 1968 and 1977 and finds him­self in the Top 20 point-get­ters and Top 10 goal-scor­ers in the rich his­tory of se­nior hockey in this prov­ince.

He brought a smooth skat­ing stride to the left side and he was a wizard in the stick­han­dling de­part­ment through­out his ca­reer. Most peo­ple would have been con­tent to put the hockey bag to the way­side af­ter years of prac­tice, games and trips across the prov­ince in the worst kind of weather.

Blan­chard did ex­actly the op­po­site. He never took the skates off and still plays the game twice a week with Black Horse in the four-team Cor­ner Brook Gen­tle­man’s Hockey League.

Blan­chard is as lean to­day as he was when he was caus­ing night­mares for op­pos­ing goalies. He never gained a pound and he says it’s all be­cause he al­ways kept him­self on the go with out­door ac­tiv­i­ties such as rab­bit catch­ing, cut­ting wood, rid­ing the snow­mo­bile and trekking through the woods on a moose hunt.

He fig­ures he plays 50 games of hockey a year with his Black Horse bud­dies and he has al­ways loved the so­cial as­pect of the game, get­ting to share a bev­er­age and a chat with the boys af­ter the game or giv­ing one of the boys a rib­bing, or like so many times get­ting razzed up by his younger team­mates.

“I can’t sit still. The wife said I should be on Ri­talin or some­thing,” Blan­chard said with a hearty chuckle Thurs­day af­ter­noon from Pasadena where he was giv­ing his good buddy Lloyd Meade a hand with an elec­tri­cal project he was do­ing for a friend.

He’s the old­est guy on the ice and he’s re­minded of that on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. He is shar­ing the ice now with guys who are sons of some of his friends and he also has base­ball friends such as Frank Hum­ber who he hangs out with, so it’s been a blast for him to be able to keep play­ing.

He said he loves re­mind­ing Hum­ber that he will help him with his crossovers, pok­ing fun at the for­mer base­ball pro who picked up hockey late in life but ap­pears to be hav­ing his own fun in his new el­e­ment.

Hockey has given Blan­chard some fond mem­o­ries of wins and losses. He has great friends he made be­cause he put on a pair of skates so many years ago.

He said he looks for­ward to game night now as much as he did when he was mak­ing a name for him­self in se­nior hockey and he told his team­mates that he will re-eval­u­ate his fu­ture when he turns 70.

He has a cou­ple of wonky knees to show for those beau­ti­ful strides down the wing, but he feels pretty good about how he’s able to hold his own with the young guns.

“While I can still get up I will be there,” he said.

Meade is one of the guys who shared the ice with Blan­chard un­til his first knee re­place­ment in 2009 forced him to put the skates away for good.

“For his age, he can still skate for miles that’s for sure,” Meade said.

The two have lots of good mem­o­ries from their days on the ice and the fun times af­ter the fi­nal buzzer had ended.

Meade fully un­der­stands why his buddy wants to keep go­ing.

“I al­ways tell him to keep go­ing. I miss it and would still play if I could,” Meade said.

Rack­ing up points was some­thing that came nat­u­ral to Blan­chard when he was in the prime of his life. He’s not as dan­ger­ous around the net to­day, but he’s still a threat.

“The hands, the legs and the mind all slow down right, but I pick up a scat­ter one here and there,” he said with a hearty chuckle.

DAVE KEARSEY/THE WEST­ERN STAR

With his 70th birth­day quickly ap­proach­ing, Alex Blan­chard is still a smoothie on skates. He plays about 50 games of hockey each year and still keeps up with the younger guys, many of whom are awestruck at his longevity and ef­fec­tive­ness at his age.

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