They swapped stories, got in some good jabs and played an enthusiastic scrimmage out at Nor-Val Sports Centre in Armstrong.
And the highlight for the Lotus Gardens men’s hockey team was seeing their loveable 80-something longtime sponsor Harry Low handle the official ceremonial opening face-off.
“Harry sponsored the team for 22 years, in the White Valley League, the Sportsmans League and the Oldtimers League,” said (Medicinal) Moe Irving. “Harry’s father opened the Lotus Gardens Restaurant in 1947. Later, Harry arrived from China in 1953, and in 1960, Harry and his wife, Chui Ha, took over the restaurant and operated a very popular and successful family business until their retirement in 1991.”
Irving said Low’s generosity and hospitality over the years will never be forgotten by the players, who range from the BCJHL Vernon Essos rock-solid defenceman Bob Mayer, high-scoring forwards Bob Stein and Tom Williamson of the Vernon Blades, and all-star goalie Ed Forslund of the BCJHL Victoria Cougars.
Throw in smooth d-man Bernie Smithson, whose son Jerred just finished a stellar playoff run with the Nashville Predators, and Lotus Gardens had a pretty talented roster.
That they are all still healthy, functioning men in their late 50s and early 60s must stem from all those post-game meals at Lotus Gardens, once a thriving eatery in the heart of old Chinatown.
Pembroke overdoes RBC celebration
Pembroke is a pretty forestry city of 23,000 nestled on the shores of the Ottawa River in the heart of the Ottawa Valley.
Their junior A hockey team, known as the Lumber Kings, shut out the Vipers 2-0 in the Royal Bank Cup two weeks ago, and all of a sudden they’re calling themselves Hockey Town Canada.
Hmm, let’s see. The Vipers have been to nine national championships and won six, yet Vernon doesn’t claim to be anything except a winning hockey town.
Pembroke has played in five national tournaments and this was their first title. Hardly reason enough for their mayor, Ed Jacyno, to change his voicemail to say callers had reached “The mayor of Hockey Town Canada and the proud mayor of the RBC Cup champion Pembroke Lumber Kings, the best in Canada.”
Perhaps they should wait until they win two or three, or at least a Kraft Hockeyville smorg before boasting of such a thing.
Clippers sign Dahlen, Holliday
A pair of North Okanagan products have signed with the BCHL Nanaimo Clippers for next season.
Vernon’s Colton Dahlen, a defenceman with the Revelstoke Grizzlies, and forward Shawn Holliday of Armstrong, will be moving to the Island hub.
Said Revelstoke Grizzlies coach Rylan Ferster on Dahlen, on the BCHL website: “He can make the transition fine; he’s a smart player, he skates well and makes a good first pass.”
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Dahlen had 21 points in 41 games with junior B Revelstoke last year.
Holliday spent the last two seasons with the junior B North Okanagan Knights, and had been sought after by ex-Viper coach Mike Vandekamp of the Grand Prairie Storm, now head coach in Nanaimo. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Holliday had 23 goals and 54 assists.
The Clippers also inked 5-foot-10, 175-pound Jared Chinn, 18, from the Carolina Junior Hurricanes.
Special Olympics auction items impressive
Hockey celebrities Tom Renney (Edmonton Oilers coach), Barry Trotz (Nashville coach), Howie Meeker (retired NHLer and TV analyst) and Ernie Gare Jr. (New York Ranger scout) are the guest speakers at the Special Olympics sports banquet, Friday, June 17 at Temptasian Restaurant.
Tickets are $50 a person with special corporate table rates.
Some of the more exciting live and silent auction items include Canuck jerseys autographed by Henrik Sedin and Roberto Luongo, a Ranger sweater signed by Henrik Lundquist and Nashville duds inked by Shea Weber, Cody Franson and Jordon Tootoo.
For us Oiler fans, there will be two jerseys autographed by Taylor Hall up for bid.
There are loads of hotel packages and you don’t have to be at the banquet or weekend charity golf tournament to make a bid. You can simply visit: vernongolfspectacular.com.