As Canada’s world champion junior hockey team showed last week, it’s nice to know hockey isn’t really dead despite all the grumblings of the owners and players of the National Hockey league. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus after all. And more often, he’s just doing his thing in the hinterlands of Canada, where a bunch of unpaid hockey players got together to have a special holiday fundraising exhibition game.

It took place in Chibougamau between the Chibougamau Senior AA team and Ambassador Midget BB’s on December 29. I noticed the Senior AA team no name. Talk about being well known or at least having a reputation of some sort.

It was to be a battle between age and experience against the enthusiasm and energy of youth as one team had members between 14 and 35 while the other team is aged 16-17.

The fundraising aspect was hard to see as there wasn’t anyone at the doors collecting entry fees, though one woman was rushing through the crowd at the arena selling 50/50 draw tickets with a passion. Since neither my friends or I didn’t win I don’t know how much was raised. Hey, it was the holidays and I was doing minimal work while on vacation.

I guess that means I wasn’t totally on my game but back to the real game. It was a back and forth battle for a little while but after reaching a score of 3-2 for Chibougamau, the Seniors really took off. It wouldn’t be until the second period at a score of 8-2 that the youngsters would start a comeback. The score would whipsaw back and forth with the mad dashes all players were making. I swear on my grandfathers’ pet budgies’ grave that you could see the sweat streaming behind them at times.

Just watching them I started sweating myself and was forced to seek relief. At this point it might be interesting to note that the arena bar had plenty of beer but was low on all types of hard stuff and other forms of firewater. The SAQ strike is taking its toll on Chibougamau hockey fans.

With the Ambassador making a comeback, bumping the score up to 9-8, it was looking bad for Clifford Benac and the boys. Then in a flurry of energy (I suspect steroid supplements) Calvin Blacksmith, Titus Bosum and the rest of the Seniors quickly brought home a bevy of goals making the final score 13-9 or something like that.

The team willingly posed for a group shot. The way they naturally settled into the pose showed these lads were no amateurs to the game of hockey player posing.

It was a happy bunch of boys in the dressing room who sent me out for a few after-game brews.

Somehow my camera ended up with a few extra pictures on it.

Enjoy and remember the real spirit of hockey lives on and it sure as h*ll isn’t with the NHL Happy New Year from all the lads from the Chibougamau Senior AA team.