Yep, it’s the real deal.
Not only does Canada have a Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto honouring former NHLers, it has a similar fixture in Gatineau, Quebec, to honour the grey-beards of oldtimers hockey.
And a Fonthill man, Terry Roberts of Oakridge Boulevard, who became an octogenarian in June, has just been inducted.
The 80-plus Hockey Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization that recognizes active recreational hockey players age 80 and older from across the country, both in “player” and ”builder” categories.
Roberts is president and CEO of a transportation company serving the oversize and overweight segment of the industry, and has been at it for some 50 years. He moved to Pelham seven years ago.
“I grew up in a very poor part of Toronto, and had to quit school in Grade 8 to go to work to help support my family,” said Roberts. “I started driving a truck, and have been in trucking ever since.”
He plays tennis, enjoys cycling, and was certified as a private pilot, but it’s ice hockey which gets his pulse racing.
“I ran an early-morning pickup league in Burlington on Saturdays for 40 years, and also competed with the Burlington Oldtimers, Grimsby Oldtimers, and Niagara Ice-Timers. I now play at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls. We scrimmage on Mondays and our league games are on Wednesdays. It’s without a doubt the best league I’ve ever played in. All the guys are so welcoming.”
Not bad for a guy who didn’t lace on skates until age 44.
The Niagara Ice Timers league at the Gale Centre has five teams in the age 70-plus division, and six in the 65-plus division, said Roberts, a right-winger who wears number 90 on his jersey. All league games include goalies, two referees, and a timekeeper.
The Burlington Oldtimers Hockey Club — the largest oldtimers hockey club in the world, with some 1100 members age 35 and older — will be hosting the 2022 induction ceremony on Saturday, October 22. The day will include on-ice matches of new and past inductees, plus an international game against 80-plus players from the USA. The induction ceremony and dinner will be held at the Art Gallery of Burlington.
The last time the Leafs won the Stanley Cup — 1967 — I was at the parade
“At the induction ceremony, they give recipients a personalized jersey, plus 50 personalized hockey cards just like the NHLers, with your picture on the front, and all of your hockey stats on the back,” said Roberts. “I’m going to sign each one and hand them out to friends. Maybe in 50 years, they’ll be worth a buck and a half,” he said with a laugh.
The 80-plus Hockey Hall of Fame is hoping that the big-time NHL Hockey Hall of Fame will agree to loan its octogenarian brothers the real Stanley Cup for the event.
Roberts is looking for help in identifying an Indigenous community in Canada that might want some team uniforms.
“When I ran the Saturday morning pick-up league in Burlington, I supplied all the jerseys for both teams,” said Roberts. “I retired as organizer last year, and nobody wanted to take over all the jerseys and organize the teams. They just decided they’d wear whatever colour they wanted, going forward. So I have a complete set of home and away jerseys and hockey socks in Los Angeles Kings colours, that I’m hoping to donate to an Indigenous community up north. Should any Voice readers have some connections, I’d be happy to speak with them.”
Roberts says that both he and his wife Judy are lifelong NHL hockey fanatics.
His favorite team?
“I was born and raised in Toronto, so you know the answer,” he said, chuckling. “The last time the Leafs won the Stanley Cup — 1967 — I was at the parade.”
Should any Pelham oldtimer hockey players be interested, nominations for player induction into the 80-plus Hockey Hall of Fame are available online at www.80plushockeyhalloffame.com