American 'old-timer' hockey league plays in the Arctic

American 'old-timer' hockey league plays in the Arctic

It's not everyday that Tuktoyaktuk hockey players get to play against a team from the United States.

But that's what happened on Tuesday night, when members of the roving hockey league, NH Redline Hockey, brought 13 players to town.

"We've been to Inuvik before," said 72- year-old Mike Chase from New Hampshire, the league's founder.

"We heard that this is the last year of the ice road, and so we wanted to come up and visit Inuvik, and drive the ice road and play in Tuktoyaktuk."

Word spread quickly that there was a team of "old-timer hockey players" in the hamlet.

"It's very rarely that this stuff happens here," said Tuktoyaktuk resident Bo Raddy.

"So many people came out tonight. Normally it's very quiet hockey."

Roving oldies

Chase started the hockey league 10 years ago after he retired.

"I was an avid hockey player all my life and they needed a morning league in Nashua [New Hampshire], so I started one up and then we got the idea of doing trips and adventure trips." 

Chase says the league tries to take two trips abroad every year. Over the past decade, around 250 players have joined the touring team on its various adventures.

For this trip, most of the players were from New Hampshire, although there was a player from Toronto and a player from Ohio. The oldest player on the team was 74.

The team played four games in Inuvik and their final game in Tuktoyaktuk. For some of the games, they ended up mixing up the teams.

"The trick is to try and get the teams as even as they can be... So all the teams will have some young and some old," said Chase.

"We found that the Tuktoyaktuk team was very young, they were all between the ages of 18 to 25."

A family affair

The hockey trip was also a family affair for Chase. 

His twin granddaughters, Marla and Misty Seppala, came along for what he promised would be "the real frontier experience."

The twins have been working for the league for about five years, and Misty, at 21, is the youngest member of the team.

"It's a once in a lifetime experience... It's pretty awesome. Not everybody gets to do that," said Misty. 

The sisters say they have been able to travel the world with their grandfather through the hockey team.

"That's what it's all about. It's just for fun and you get to see places," said Marla.

Chase, who says he's played around nine tournaments in the North, agrees.

"It's kind of a common feeling of friendship and you get a little violence, and a little chance to push against each other, and then you are great friends afterwards. It's just a really great way to make friends."