Alberni Senior Men’s Floor Hockey League reunites

Port Alberni has always been a hockey town, even when there was no ice

Reid’s Auto Body from the Alberni Senior Men’s Floor Hockey League poses with a trophy circa 1975. This photo used to hang on a wall in the old Somass Hotel on Argyle Street, where the Thunderbird Building is now located. ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM PHOTO (PN20813)

Reid’s Auto Body from the Alberni Senior Men’s Floor Hockey League poses with a trophy circa 1975. This photo used to hang on a wall in the old Somass Hotel on Argyle Street, where the Thunderbird Building is now located. ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM PHOTO (PN20813)

Port Alberni has always been a hockey town, even when there was no ice available and the only action people saw was floor hockey. This Saturday, June 23, the Alberni Senior Men’s Floor Hockey League is holding an “Almost 50th” reunion at the AV Curling Club to look back at those times.

“It’s been 30 years since we played,” said Larry Ransom, one of the reunion organizers and a former player. “It was a popular sport for ball players to play to keep in shape. A lot of lacrosse players played too.”

The league formed unofficially in 1968 or so and disbanded in 1989. It started with players from Grade 13 at Alberni District Secondary School playing against teachers as well as RCMP members and Alberni Valley Fastball players looking for off-season activity. They played Tuesday nights over the fall and winter at Glenwood Centre (known then as the Army Drill Hall). Sponsored teams included Alberni Foundry, Arlington Hotel, Barclay Hotel, Bronson’s Hardware, Custom Auto Body, DJ Sports, J&L Drive-In, Mr. Mike’s, Reid’s Auto Body, Sports Den, Somass Hotel, the Alberni Militia and others.

“There was also a junior league formed by Parks and Rec…where some of us played prior to joining the senior league,” Ransom said. “The former Bearcats and Blackhawks junior team players are welcome to attend the reunion.”

Although the modern incarnation of floor hockey uses plastic sticks and pucks, and ball hockey uses hard rubber balls, the senior men’s teams played “ring” hockey—they used straight sticks and their puck was really a large plastic ring. “Everybody used sawed-off hockey sticks with the ends tapered,” Ransom said. “Goaltenders wore road hockey or ball hockey equipment.”

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Teams used straight sticks and large rubber rings—one of which can be seen in this photo.                                 SUBMITTED PHOTO

Teams used straight sticks and large rubber rings—one of which can be seen in this photo. SUBMITTED PHOTO