Nor­wood cel­e­brates 50 years of ice sports

Todd Brown­ing, Ray Bourque, Bobby Hull on hand for day of spe­cial events

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - MIKE DAVIES Ex­am­iner Sports Di­rec­tor [email protected]­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Long be­fore Brad Walst be­came a rock star in Three Days Grace he as­pired to be a hockey player growing up in Nor­wood mi­nor hockey.

A day af­ter a sold-out show at Oshawa’s Trib­ute Com­mu­ni­ties Cen­tre Walst took ad­van­tage of a three-day break in their Cana­dian tour to take in the 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions of Nor­wood mi­nor hockey and the Nor­wood & Dis­trict Skat­ing Club. Walst’s three sons play mi­nor hockey in Nor­wood and they took in the Bos­ton Bru­ins’ Alumni game against Nor­wood Hor­nets Alumni which high­lighted week­end ac­tiv­i­ties at the Aspho­del-Nor­wood Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

“It’s funny be­cause all the hockey play­ers I meet now from the NHL all want to be rock stars and all the rock stars want to be hockey play­ers,” said Walst. “I still love to get out and play and to watch the game.

“I played all the way up un­til ju­ve­nile and then I started play­ing too much mu­sic,” he said. “It’s a great town and a close-knit com­mu­nity.”

A star-stud­ded crew helped Nor­wood cel­e­brate its an­niver­sary. In ad­di­tion to Ray Bourque and the Bru­ins’ alumni, hockey leg­end Bobby Hull was guest speaker at a Satur­day lun­cheon. Fig­ure skat­ing cham­pi­ons Kurt Brown­ing, Nam Nguyen and Alissa Czisny par­tic­i­pated in fig­ure skat­ing ac­tiv­i­ties on Sun­day.

“We had Kurt Brown­ing here three years ago,” said Ber­nadette Van­der­horst, in her 33rd year coach­ing with the club. “He has a fan­tas­tic per­son­al­ity, very per­son­able. It’s kind of like hav­ing your big brother come and hang out with you for the day.”

The club was ini­ti­ated by some moth­ers who wanted to pro­vide a learn-to-skate pro­gram and later added fig­ure skat­ing. While a lot of small-town clubs have folded over time, Nor­wood con­tin­ues to go strong with nearly 90 skaters and eight coaches.

“We have an out­stand­ing base of vol­un­teers on our ex­ec­u­tive who are the core to mak­ing sure our club runs well,” said Van­der­horst. “We have eight coaches on staff and four or five of them are univer­sity or col­lege stu­dents who skated with our club. It’s like a suc­ces­sion plan. We work with them and en­cour­age them to get cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Some clubs strug­gle to find coaches but we’ve kind of taken that in-house.”

Mike Ly­tle was six when he started play­ing mi­nor hockey in Nor­wood 48 years ago. A lot has changed since those early days, he said.

Play­ers on the Hor­nets rep teams from novice to pee­wee also played in a Satur­day morn­ing house league which com­bined all three age groups. “They were the Orig­i­nal Six teams and the sev­enyear-olds played against the 12year-olds,” said Ly­tle. “We got extra ice time that way. It was pretty neat. A five-year gap is pretty sub­stan­tial nowa­days. I think it was more ben­e­fi­cial to the young guys, for sure.”

Back then play­ers from Nor­wood weren’t al­lowed to go to Peter­bor­ough to play AAA.

“Once they put re­gional hockey in it kind of took away from the small-town hockey,” said Ly­tle. “Have­lock had good teams and Hastings and Camp­bell­ford and it was quite a bat­tle back then. Nowa­days, the good play­ers get taken away from the small towns. And there aren’t as many kids play­ing, ei­ther.”

In a packed ANCC lobby, Tim Klomp­maker, a past pres­i­dent of Nor­wood mi­nor hockey, said it was great to see so many peo­ple he hadn’t seen in years.

“It’s great to see those kids who went through the sys­tem and find out what they are do­ing to­day,” said Klomp­maker. “It’s also a great op­por­tu­nity to give back to mi­nor hockey. It’s a great com­mu­nity.”

His great­est mem­ory is of the com­mit­ment the com­mu­nity had to its mi­nor sports and the ef­forts to build the ANCC.

“When there were play­off games and you got into the fi­nals the stands were full. The com­mu­nity sup­ported the or­ga­ni­za­tion tremen­dously,” he said.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

Ray Bourque of the Bos­ton Bru­ins Alumni greets young hockey play­ers dur­ing a break against the Nor­wood Hor­nets Alumni on Satur­day.

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