Getting ready to skate at 88: hockey-loving BC man inspires his teammates | The Canadian News

It’s game day in Abbotsford, BC, and Henry Unger is gearing up for his third game this week.

“Let’s play hockey,” the 88-year-old yells from the locker room hallway as the team waits for Zamboni to clear the ice.

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Unger is doing his part to cheer on everyone on his 55+ team.

“Is he an inspiration to you younger guys?” teammate Don Tuck was asked. “Ha, I thought I was old when I came here, now I’m a young boy.”

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Unger says he put on his first pair of skates back in 1939.

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“As I recall, they cost $3.75,” Unger told Global News.

Remember he used magazines as shin guards. He loves sharing stories of a simpler time for the sport.

“He says ‘when I started playing hockey it was homemade sticks and frozen horse shit,'” team goalie Mark Wilkinson said.

“We’re having fun and we’re getting a workout,” Unger explained from the bench between shifts.

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Most people don’t try to come back at 88.

In fact, he had to relearn skating on his own, after taking the last year and a half off.

“I literally had to grab onto the boards so I could turn around and skate backwards,” he said, after finally getting back on the ice.

Unger is quite a bit older than most players, but on the ice he’s just one of them.

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“When he walks onto the ice, he takes off his headphones so we can trash him all day and he just smiles at us,” teammate Gary Gogal joked.

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While he may be a veteran, Unger still has plenty of skills.

“He may not be burning up and down, but you don’t want to take him for granted, he plays hockey well,” said longtime friend Tom McBratney.

“He checks you out real hard, he doesn’t give you an inch,” warned teammate Bill Stroomer.

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From time to time, the seas part and the ice breaks up, giving Henry a chance to score.

“I have to admit that sometimes they give me a little extra space,” he said.

So how many goals did the 88-year-old goalkeeper manage to pass in this particular outing?

“One, but I got three assists,” he said, admitting his stats wouldn’t give him the league MVP title.

However, if you were to ask the other players, who would win as the most inspiring player? “Enrique!!” their teammates shout, as they pose for a photo on center ice.

Of course, it is Unger who is right in the middle.

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To contact Jay Durant with a story idea for This is BC, email him details and contact information at [email protected]

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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