I was back in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario over the holidays and got a chance to see a Soo Greyhounds game. It was so great to see some Junior hockey, up close. The pace was fast, the scoring chances many, and the intensity fierce – just like the World Juniors I had been watching on TV.
It brought back so many memories as a kid growing up here, going to see the games with my family or my hockey buddies. It was the ticket in town – always packed to the rafters. Though the arena is in the same place, it is much nicer now, with extensive renovations done over the last few years.
I was lucky enough to see “The Great One” – Wayne Gretzky – play there, along with other ex-NHL stars like Paul Coffey, Craig Hartsburg, Doug Shedden, Jack Valiquette, Ted Nolan and Ron Francis. My list of favorites that I saw as a kid goes on to include others that did not make it to the NHL – but were amazing players – and a lot of Greyhounds that made it for just a “cup of coffee.” It got me thinking of how many great players never made it to the “show.” How so many kids around the country work so hard to realize their dreams, but never make the NHL. It is a tough road, I am sure, and makes you appreciate the talent of those who do make it.
The next day, I went for a drive to run an errand and found myself next door to the arena that I played at as a kid – the Sault Pee Wee Arena! It looked just the same as I remembered – no renovations here. The smell of stale popcorn was the same, as was the cold rink, the lights and the stands where I could remember my mom and her friends watching us scatter around the ice as Squirts or Pee Wees. It was great to see the kids coming out of the dressing rooms with smiles on their faces. It reminded me of how great the game can be and how much fun I had playing.
It also reminded me of how much fun I have now, looking at all of my favorite NHL heroes, as the owner of Vintage Sports Images!