At Twin Rinks there are a few things you can always be sure of - the Canucks game will be on, the beer will be cold, and on Thursdays, the O'Keefe group will be on the ice. After 10 + years of hold a contract with us (and even longer playing together), we thought it was time for us to share their story. We met up with Joe O'keefe to talk about his crew and how their bond goes beyond the ice.
How long has your group been playing together?
"I moved here in the Fall of 1995 and started playing in January of 1996 on a Friday night around 11pm! Some of those guys are still with our present group but it has been refined over the years. The group that I joined were already up and running under a different name and I played with them for about 2 to 3 years".
After the rep threw in the towel, Joe and another teammate banded together and started calling guys up.
"I had got an ice time from Canlan Twin Rinks and figured out the amount of guys I needed (at least 20) players to handle the financial requirements. Once we had enough guys, I signed my first contract."
So what does a typical Thursday night look like?
"Our hockey has just a few rules. No dirty stuff and we play black and white shirts. We split the teams up as even as possible and we play mini games to 5. After 5, we switch goalies and if one team is too strong, we usually make a few changes. Most times we only get 2 games in over our allotted ice time. It is very competitive so sometimes we only get in one game in!"
After all is said and done though, Joe admits that it's really the guys that make the group great.
"The most enjoyable feature is the group we have. We have made a few changes over the years. Dean Rochan now looks after the goalies and for the most part spares, if we need them. We have 4 guys who look after the money to pay for our ice time. We are all there to have a competitive game but in the end it is to get some exercise and have some fun."
"The O'Keefe hockey party at Christmas is open to all. At the end of Spring we have always gone on a weekend golf trip and during the year we have organized bowling games. Many of the guys see each other socially. A lot of the group are good friends!"
When we asked about some favorite memories of the team, Joe didn't hesitate to mention their teammate Gary Brown, who passed away in 2014. "He played hockey with us from the start, up until 3 years ago when he was diagnosed with Cancer". Gary, nicknamed 'Down Town', was a loyal and long time member of the team, who wasn't able to play again after his diagnosis. The team rallied together to support Gary, helping out with things around his house and trying to make things easier where they could. "He died last Fall and today his memory is survived by our golf tournament, 'The Gary Brown Memorial'. In the end, we all got together for his funeral. He is sadly missed in our dressing room"
Members of the O'Keefe group have been involved in the hockey community, minor hockey and all love the game. Many of them are local business owners and are well respected in the community. Many thanks to Joe for sharing his teams story and for keeping the game alive since 95!