Oye relishes in remininscing

Jordan Oye’s perspective of Richmond Celebrates Hockey Day was, to say the least, unique.

Like the thousands of others who flocked to the Richmond Olympic Oval for the city’s annual celebration of the game Saturday, the Richmond man enjoyed the various salutations to hockey—from a celebrity ball hockey game featuring hall of famer Guy Lafleur to a Pacific Junior Hockey League game featuring his old team, the Richmond Sockeyes.

Oye, 26, even skated in one of the day’s games, an exhibition between the Sockeyes Alumni and the Vancouver Canucks Oldtimers. And in an odd twist, he was traded to the Canucks following the second period for Orland Kurtenbach, the original captain of the NHL Canucks in 1970 who later coached the Sockeyes to the Canadian Junior A championship in 1987.

But by far his greatest memory of the day was the reminiscing. It is, he says, what makes hockey such a special game regardless of the level you play at or reach.

“That sense of camaraderie was reinforced (when he played with the Canucks in the final period),”  Oye says.

“We had kind of heard that Kurt wanted to play with the Sockeyes but I didn’t know we’d be sending someone to the Canucks to replace him,” he continues. “Then (Sockeyes’ captain) Doug Paterson said I’d been traded because they wanted someone who could skate and dangle.”

Oye was greeted with open arms by the former NHLers.

“It was the thrill of a lifetime, but more than actually playing with those guys or even sitting on the bench was the ride up with them in the elevator. That was the highlight of my night,” he says.

The players, especially the older ones, were reminded of the elevator ride they used to take in Madison Square Garden whenever the Canucks played the New York Rangers. Then another former Canuck mentioned the stairs at the old Chicago Stadium and what a hassle it was to climb up and down them between each period.

“Then one guy said, ‘Oh, yeah, it was even worse after a fight,’” says Oye.

While Saturday’s exhibition game was all about fun and a fundraiser for charity, Oye—who ended his hockey career last season with 29 points in 46 games for the Louisana IceGators of the Southern Professional Hockey League—says it was still competitive.

“While they’re enjoying it they still have a lot of pride and still want to win,” he says, noting the Canuck Oldtimers haven’t lost a game in 20-plus years.

Cliff Ronning made sure the record remained intact last weekend by scoring four goals in a 5-4 win over the former Sockeyes.

“I was a little starstruck. I didn’t want to screw up so I tried to get rid of the puck as quick as possible,” says Oye, now an assistant coach for Seafair Minor Hockey’s Peewee A3 team. “I’ve never been that way. Most games I want the puck, but when I was playing with those guys I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.”

After the game, the reminiscing continued. So, too, did the good-natured ribbing.

“That (trading Oye) was the best trade the Sockeyes ever made,” former trainer Anson Barrows said.

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