Oliver Arena* – 50th Anniversary Hockey Game
The Oliver and District Arena, one of the first recreation facilities built in the South Okanagan, is 50 years old.
To celebrate the anniversary of the grand opening back in February 1969 and kick off a year-long celebration of this special milestone, Oliver Parks and Recreation is hosting the Montreal Canadiens Alumni Tour for a special Charity Hockey Game this Friday, Feb 8, 2019.
Following a special opening ceremony and puck drop involving local dignitaries, surviving members of the original Building Committee and the singing of our national anthem by 13 year old Kyah Allen, the Montreal Canadiens Alumni will face off against the Oliver Big Horns for 3 periods of Canada’s favourite game. The local team name was chosen to pay homage to the players who proudly wore the Big Horns jersey for many years at the Oliver Arena, even representing Oliver on an international tour to Sweden and Finland in 1984.
Five of the players who will take the ice on Friday against the Habs were a part of this original team: Mike “Johnsy” Johnson, Jim “Chicken Jim” Stanley, Bryan “Brimy” Brimacomb, Larry “Dusty” MacFadden and Tom “Fortchy” Fortune.
They will be joined by 13 local hockey players and 2 coaches representing a wide range of ages and hockey experience, all with one thing in common: a love for both the game of hockey and the Oliver Arena. These players all contributed financially for the experience of playing against the ex-NHL greats and Oliver Parks and Recreation is grateful for their support.
Game-goers can also expect souvenir sales, intermission contests and activities, beverage sales featuring Firehall Brewery craft beer, the famous poutine and other treats from the Lion’s Club concession and memorabilia displays from many years of sport at the arena.
South Okanagan Minor Hockey pre-novice players will be taking the ice immediately following the first period for a special skate with the Canadiens.
Oliver Parks and Recreation is grateful for the generous support they received from the local business community to help to cover the costs of bringing the Montreal Canadiens Alumni tour to Oliver and throwing a 50th anniversary party worthy of the experiences and benefits the ‘Arena’ has provided the community since 1969.
Kudos to SunFM/EZ Rock, Munday Media & Design, Coast Hotel Oliver, Lion’s/Lioness Club of Oliver, Argon Electric & Solar; South Okanagan Minor Hockey, Okanagan Paradise Resorts, Sherwood Trophies, Fortis BC, MJE Contracting and Canadian Tire for making the event happen.
Thanks also to the advertisers in the game programme.
Another 3 local hockey players purchased a “Thrill of a Lifetime” experience to play alongside the Montreal Canadiens Alumni team for the game on Friday. Ron Doucette, Derek Ruck and Dean Maynard will don Canadiens jerseys for the game and face off against their peers, supporting the event and the future of the Oliver Arena at the same time.
Advance General Admission and VIP tickets sold out back on January 11, and event organizers are excited to welcome a packed house on Friday. “I’m not sure when the last time the Oliver arena reached the kind of capacity that we expect,” says organizer Carol Sheridan, “but Oliver sure came through on selling out this event and it will be a really special celebration of just how much this facility means to the community”.
Sheridan has a few reminders for ticket holders attending the game. “Bring your tickets with you. General Admission tickets will be required for anyone over the age of 3 and because the facility is licensed for the game we are asking adults over the age of 19 to bring photo ID with them”. Doors open at the arena at 5:30pm, and spectators can fill the stands and the standing areas at either end of the rink. Those patrons that will require assistance getting to the seating areas are asked to identify themselves to the volunteers at the entrance upon arrival. The players and officials will warm up at 6:00pm and the opening ceremonies will immediately follow around 6:20pm. Event-goers are reminded to dress warmly as the heaters will not be running and are encouraged to dress in their favourite jersey, jacket or hat that represents experiences at the Oliver Arena. No outside food or drink will be permitted and all food, beverage and souvenir sales will be cash only. There is an ATM machine available at the Oliver Community Hall or at the Petro Can station at Tuc-El-Nuit Drive and McKinney Rd. intersection.
The Oliver Arena is a smoke-free facility.
Any proceeds from the event will go towards much-needed capital improvements to the Oliver Arena. Although the building structure itself has at least 25 years of life remaining, the brine lines and concrete slab that make up the secondary cooling system and ice surface have reached end of life and are prematurely failing. The arena washrooms, dressing rooms and public spaces lack accessibility and need updating, plus the original wood bleachers, stairs and hand rails up to the mezzanine level present concerns that need to be addressed. A concept design and budget to address these concerns as well as other potential improvements to the facility are currently being developed and will be on display throughout the year for the community to review.
*The OLIVER arena is a joint function of the RDOS Area ‘C’ and the Town of Oliver – managed by the Oliver Parks and Recreation Society