Invermere will soon host an Australian pond ice hockey team during its tour of BC and Alberta.

 The Canberra Senators – the national capital’s oldest active ice hockey club – will begin its tour January 18 and wrap up on February 3 in Invermere.

 “There have been plenty of Aussie ice hockey teams which have travelled overseas, including to Canada, but none has prepared itself specifically for pond hockey tournaments and games,” said team manager Bill Kourelakos. “We’ll be skating outdoors in -10 to -20 degree temperatures where the wind is biting and the snow unrelenting.”

 The average age of the 12-member team is 60; the youngest skater is 51, the oldest 67. 

Former Australian women’s team captain Stephanie Boxall is the sole female player. Two of the Canberra Knights foundation players – Steve Clyde-Smith and Scott Marshall – are part of the team whose members represent a cross-section of backgrounds, nationalities and ice hockey experience.

 “Given ice hockey is Canada’s most popular sport, you’d expect a lot of expatriates who’ve made Australia home have found an ice rink to pursue their passion, so it follows quite a few Canadians make up the Canberra Senators club,” Kourelakos said. 

He noted the team is a mix of retired senior defence personnel and public servants, first responders, business operators, professionals and a teacher.

 “We’ve been undertaking various activities during what is in the southern hemisphere our off-season, to maintain some degree of fitness, but we’re going into the mid-season in Canada, on foreign ice, against teams we’ve never played before so it’s going to be a new challenge every game,” Kourelakos pointed out.

The Pioneer was told by organizers that games in Invermere will take place indoors on February 1-2 vs the Invermere Oldtimers in Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena.