BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota (FOX 9) – A group of senior hockey players in the southern metro proves that “age is just a number”. Even though they are between 60, 70 and 80, they show no signs of slowing down.
Sometimes, in the state of hockey, playing the sport is more of a state of mind. Twice a week, a group of friends pat on their skates to play pickup hockey at Bloomington Ice Garden.
“We are like mite players. Nobody remembers the score about ten minutes into the game, so you’re just there to have fun, practice, ”said senior hockey player Gordie Roberts.
That day, his light against dark swimsuits. But under their helmets there is a lot of gray, which proves that growing old is not so black or white.
At 84, Jim Westby is the oldest player in the group and started as a spin-off of an adult hockey team almost 20 years ago.
“It’s in your blood, so you just want to keep playing for as long as you can,” Westby said.
In 1955, he scored one of the most famous goals in state high school hockey tournament history, winning the game in the 11th overtime of the quarterfinals between Minneapolis South and Thief River Falls. Today, more than six decades later, he still plays the game he loved for most of his life.
“Everyone feels the same about getting fit and staying active,” Westby said. “What’s important is that this is a great group of guys who love to be together, who can talk and share stories.”
On the other hand, Gordie Roberts is 64 and the youngest to take the ice. He played for the North Stars and the Pittsburg Penguins where he won two Stanley Cups.
“I think hockey can be a sport for life,” said Roberts. “The problem is who wants to act like you’re 83?”
But he says hockey isn’t just for kids. it can also be for the young at heart.
“I used to be competitive on the ice sometimes. I learned to master it, ”laughed Roberts. “I’m just having fun, move the puck and try to get the guys up a bit. I play more at their level, which they appreciate and so do I.
Even though the squad includes former college, national and pro hockey players as well as Olympians, there is no body checking due to their advanced age and the action is a bit slower than it was in their youth.
“We’re all a bunch of kids playing this game,” Jerry Melnychuck said. “And we do it at 60, 70, 80. Isn’t that amazing?”
Melnychuck is 83 years old and played for the “Golden Gophers”. But he says getting older is no reason for him to spend his “golden years” in the penalty area.
“Nobody celebrates getting older. So if we want to grow old, we might as well do things that we love,” Melnychuck said.
At the end of the day, there is no victory against Father’s Time.
“We have players with two new knees. We have players with new shoulder replacements. We have guys with double passes and throws. We have guys who have all kinds of things happened to them, and they still play with this group today, ”said Melnychuck.
But these hockey players will try to keep him on the ice for as long as they can.
“One day when I’m 80 and there are guys in their sixties who maybe played professional hockey for as long as I’ve been doing it for 20 years, and he’s getting me ready, I I’ll be sure to get him a beer afterwards, ”laughed Roberts.
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