AJK High­land Trav­ellers hold 33rd an­nual gath­er­ing

The Glengarry News - - Sports In The Glens - News

BY MAR­GARET CALDBICK

Staff The Maxville arena park­ing lot was as slip­pery as a wet bot­tle on De­cem­ber 29, but once they got on the freshly resur­faced hockey ice, the AJK High­land Trav­ellers play­ers shrugged off the ex­cesses of the Christ­mas past to play an ex­cit­ing 8-6 game, with play­ers land­ing dozens of shots on net de­spite stretches of sound de­fen­sive play from both teams pa­trolling their half of the rink.

The con­test, an an­nual re­union game, turned out to be a fast­paced work­out fea­tur­ing the squad’s reg­u­lar play­ers, re­tired and hon­orary, as well as some newer faces, now that a third gen­er­a­tion of AJK play­ers is step­ping on the ice for the first time.

Among them is for­ward Nathaniel Van Put­ten, who comes from a hockey fam­ily that in­cludes his grand­fa­ther, AJK gen­eral man­ager and left winger John Mar­jer­ri­son, who stayed off the ice this year due to an an­kle in­jury, in­stead tran­si­tion­ing to the bench as coach of Team White.

Van Put­ten, who lives in Mon­k­land and whose van Put­ten grand­par­ents re­side in Ap­ple Hill, is re­lated to the fa­mous fast­ballplay­ing Van Put­ten broth­ers who dis­tin­guished them­selves on the di­a­mond and are hon­oured in the Glen­garry Sports Hall of Fame.

Nathaniel, a stu­dent-ath­lete at Holy Trin­ity CSS, re­cently had some great news, as he’s been re­cruited by Car­leton Uni­ver­sity to play base­ball, start­ing in Sep­tem­ber 2019.

There were enough new faces at the game that Merle Ma­jer­ri­son, John’s wife and a loyal sup­porter of the Trav­ellers for the over three decades since the start, said that she doesn’t rec­og­nize all of the new play­ers.

“We’re like a big fam­ily, and what’s awe­some is that with new gen­er­a­tions com­ing in, I don’t rec­og­nize ev­ery face. Some I do, like Josh Har­ri­son of St. An­drew’s who is play­ing with the team, and I know him be­cause his dad, Philip, used to play with John,” said Mrs. Ma­jer­ri­son.

The cur­rent AJK lineup keeps busy and in shape play­ing old­timer ex­hi­bi­tion games, but each year the team keeps a date between Christ­mas and New Year’s for the team's muchan­tic­i­pated re­union ac­tion.

The Trav­ellers are prob­a­bly one

NEXT DEAD­LINE: Mon­day, Jan­uary 14, noon

of the long­est-sur­viv­ing teams in the area, this year mark­ing the 33rd year that the an­nual re­union match has been played.

The AJK High­land Trav­ellers (with sev­eral name changes over the years, depend­ing on spon­sors) trav­elled over­seas on five dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions. Their first tour was in 1986, with John Mar­jer­ri­son or­ga­niz­ing the hockey side of things with the British Ice Hockey Fed­er­a­tion.

Sub­se­quent tours un­folded in 1988, ’90, ’97, and 2000 – al­ways in the month of March and al­ways for 10 days – bring­ing the group to Scot­land, Eng­land, Wales, Ire­land, and Hol­land.

Now, af­ter sev­eral years of try­ing to nail down a date to re­peat their “trip of a life­time” to play in­ter­na­tional hockey, a plan is jelling up fast for the Trav­ellers to re­turn to Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land in 2020.

Ref­er­ee­ing the re­cent re­union game was sharp- eyed An­dré Pa­que­tte, who joined the Trav­ellers flock af­ter play­ing for an arch- ri­val team, and now of­fi­ci­ates all of their games.

He re­places Jerome An­dre, who was the on-ice of­fi­cial at the Thurs­day night Maxville Old­timers games for 25 years, trav­el­ling with the AJK mem­bers on their 1997 over­seas tour and of­fi­ci­at­ing games in Scot­land.

Mr. Jerome broke his hip on the ice two years ago but re­mains a keen and hon­orary mem­ber of the Trav­ellers’ fam­ily, at­tend­ing ev­ery game.

Coach­ing the win­ning Red Team was An­drew Wensink, another Trav­ellers’ stal­wart.

Re­turn­ing in net this year were du­elling fa­ther- and- son goal­tenders, An­drew Arkin­stall for the Whites, and across the rink his son, Ryan, for the Reds.

Af­ter the game and some good laughs in the dress­ing room, 20 or so of the play­ers headed for team vet­eran Kevin Vil­leneuve’s place. Plans for a 2020 over­seas trip were dis­cussed, and ac­cord­ing to Mr. Ma­jer­ri­son, the team is keen, but more will be known in the sum­mer.

This year’s re­union game was pre­ceded by a free skate for the play­ers’ chil­dren, with kids from ages three and up on the ice. Judg­ing by the agility, bal­ance, and skat­ing tal­ent of some of the young ones, it won’t be long be­fore they de­velop into the fourth gen­er­a­tion of AJK High­land Trav­ellers to pull on the Red and White jer­seys.

The ice sur­face at the Glen­garry Sports Palace is in high de­mand.

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