This Saturday, expect to see an eclectic group of hockey players take to the ice as a team for the first time in a while.
“This weekend’s game is about fun,” Appollos president Ross Forrest said.
On Saturday, the Appollos Hockey Team, a group of adult hockey players, will see players from the team’s past 40 years take to the ice for an Alumni Hockey Game.
In addition to long-time hobby hockey players, Forrest said that a few have led successful hockey careers.
One such career hockey player is local man Brian Lundberg, whose time spent playing professional hockey took him to the American Hockey League, and even one game for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ NHL team.
Lundberg was born in Burnaby, but grew up in Lake Cowichan.
Lundberg’s experiences in playing hockey began before the Centennial Arena was completed in 1971.
“Before there was an arena here, some of the kids went and played in Chemainus,” he said.
He joined the group of kids for a year, and the continued playing hockey in Lake Cowichan upon the Centennial Arena’s completion.
“I played here until I was 15, and then I went and played in Kelowna, where I played for a couple of years,” he said, adding that the Kelowna team was part of the BC Junior Hockey League.
It was at this point where his hockey career truly took off, taking him to the University of Michigan, where he played for four years, spending his school time studying Education.
“I thought I would take a shot, and see where it took me,” he said, of his hockey career.
He then played for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Minor League system, as part of the American Hockey League.
His one game in the NHL came about out of luck, he said.
“The next in line wasn’t me, but the guys ahead of me were hurt or suspended,” he said.
As such, as the next healthy player down the line, he played his game with the Penguins.
Lundberg’s hockey career didn’t end there. He continued playing in the American Hockey League, in the Baltimore and then Muskegon teams.
Through contacts he’d made thus far in his career, he was then asked to play in Germany for a while.
Upon his return to Canada, Lundberg went back to school, completing his education at the University of Victoria to become a physical education teacher.
Since then, he’s worked as a substitute teacher, and at the Crofton Mill.
But, he’s never left the game of hockey behind.
In 1986, he joined Lake Cowichan’s Appollos team – a team he was a part of until about five years ago.
“I have nothing but good things to say about the guys I played with,” he said. “They’re great guys, and we had lots of fun.”
Lundberg will re-join a group of old hockey-playing friends for Saturday’s Appollos Alumni Hockey Game, which will feature players from the past 40 years.
The game will begin at 7 p.m., and will consist of two teams of Appollos players for a fun game against one another.
The team has a rich history, Forrest said.
Although it was initially named the Red Wings from its beginnings in 1971, it was re-named The Appollos, in 1973, after local doctor Bill Carpenter, who served as a doctor on the Apollo space missions.
The spelling of the team’s name has changed a number of times, Forrest said.
Due to a lack of players, the Appollos team did not compete in the Victoria Hockey League during the 2009/2010 season.
“This year, we wanted to get in, but they wanted to keep it an even number,” Forrest said. “We were always in the top few teams in the league… We always did quite well.”
As such, this alumni game will be the first game of the year for the team’s current players.
Although the hockey team isn’t competing this year, Forrest said that the Annual Labour Day Appollos Baseball Tournament will still take place this summer.
Entrance to Saturday’s alumni game will be by donation, with all proceeds going to the newly-formed Lakers Family Foundation; a charity mandated with helping Cowichan Lake area families in need.