Sunday, December 21, 2014



He is ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS.  He is HANS BRINKER, OR, THE SILVER SKATES.  He is COLBY WILLIAMS and he doesn’t yet know it, but COLBY WILLIAMS, # 5 for the REGINA PATS of the WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE, is my new best friend.
I was helping my son, Baron, move to his new place.  In his apartment storage both Baron and I kept our brand-new-two-years-ago hockey equipment, including skates.  Deciding not to play hockey this winter, I took my hockey gear to SPORTS EXCHANGE, owned and managed by my friend, Darryl.

As I unzipped the two hockey bags and itemized each piece of equipment cap-a-pie, helmet to hockey skates, I could not help but notice there were no skates!  Yikes!  (And then I remembered packing mine and Baron’s new skates into a separate duffel, one we typically used for pond hockey (pond hockey is colloquial for any outdoor rink) where we just use skates and sticks and gloves, without the accoutrements of pads and pants.   

Ah!  No problem then ...  I’ll just get the skates later when I unpack more storage items ...

Three days later after fossicking every box and bag in Baron’s storage, then my storage, then MY COBWEB MEMORY BANK … NO SKATES! I was chopfallen.

F#&K!! (This is not a MERRY CHRISTMAS typo!)

As I told this very unmerry tale of woe over and over again and finally at last to my twin sister, LISA WILLIAMS -- we share May 31st birthday celebrations, the very next day Lisa delivered to my door a pair of skates, silver and smalt CCM CRAZY LIGHTS, given to her to give to me by my new best friend, COLBY WILLIAMS, # 5 for the REGINA PATS of the WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE!

(Colby is Lisa’s son.)

“These are the very first pair of skates issued to Colby by the Pats,” Lisa said as she handed me the skates.  They were likely worn only three months at best.

Hmmm …

According to NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE (NHL) SCOUT, BRAD HORNUNG, “A pair of CCM CRAZY LIGHTS laced up in Western Hockey league play is like driving a LAMBORGHINI in a demolition derby.”

And that is exactly what they looked like, a Lamborghini sputtering home after winning a demolition derby.

Don Cherry has often touted that the WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE (WHL) based in Western Canada and the Northwestern United States, is the toughest major junior ice hockey league in the world.  We think he’s right.  It has been stated that the WHL contributes more players to the NHL than any other league, including the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

LARRY HORNUNG, ex-NHL’er (WINNIPEG JETS) and NHL SCOUT (TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS), attributed the Cherry toughness to the scheduled long bus rides from game-place to game-place.

It just so happens that I, personally, have a long and fanfaronade history with the REGINA PATS, albeit vicariously pleasurable through the experience of friends and family.

My friend, LARRY HOPFNER, played with the PATS (1966), when he just 15 years old.  To put this into perspective, hockey phenom, BOBBY ORR, played with the OSHAWA GENERALS (1962-63) when he was 14 years of age.  In a line, LARRY HOPFNER was a good hockey player.
Larry and I played together on the VANGUARD EAGLES of the NHL (NOTEKEU HOCKEY LEAGUE), certainly ancillary to the REGINA PATS.

My friend, BRAD HORNUNG, played with the PATS (1984-87) at 15 years of age, and since those playing days has been an NHL SCOUT, first with the CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS, and now with NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING.  Because of his profession, Brad goes to many, many junior games; whereas, I go but once a week, usually Fridays, where I have perquisites to free entry and free entrees, Timmy’s coffee and donuts and pizza, all on Brad’s generosity!  (I do enjoy the status of being friends with an NHL SCOUT!)

My new best friend, COLBY WILLIAMS, has played for the PATS since 2010 (15 years of age).  COLBY is still active and arguably the best defender on the team (I could be bias – did I mention that he is also my new best friend).

I must also mention that every PATS game that I do attend, I always visit with Colby’s mom (my birthday twin), Lisa, and Colby’s dad, Marc.  These parental chats, in particular, definitely highlight my rink experience.

Colby’s poison (his worn blades) is Neil’s foison (good rhyme don’t you think).  My new blades will be the apex of my pond antics!

In the spirit of HANS BRINKER, or, the SILVER SKATES (Mary Mapes Dodge, 1865) and ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS (Hollywood movie, 1988), this blog entry is totally dedicated to my new best friend, COLBY WILLIAMS!


And, COLBY, I’m headed to the pond right after I submit this blog entry.
And, COLBY, we are always willing to entertain new players and new best friends!  Just sayin …







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