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Cooler spring helps club ice a new record

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As skate blades carved into the ice and pucks caromed off the boards at the Roblin Park Community Centre Saturday morning, just one thing was out of the ordinary — it was mid-April, not February.

And Marcy Beaucage was loving it.

The long-time icemaker at RPCC had been spraying one of its three outdoor rinks with mist (to fill in the "cavities") and polishing it with the Zamboni until 11 p.m. Friday night. Then he was back at it again six hours later so he could be part of a record.

"This is the latest we’ve ever played hockey (outdoors at RPCC)," he said proudly.

About a dozen adults and another dozen kids laced up their skates for a 9 a.m. shinny game. They all knew why they were there — they all speak about April 10, 2007, the previous late-season hockey record, with the kind of reverence usually reserved for major international events.

Beaucage decided to organize the game in response to the many people complaining about the winter that won’t end. When life gives you below-normal temperatures, make ice, he said.

Konrad Schaible, who’s about to celebrate his 10th birthday, was only too happy to dust off his blades about a month after his Roblin Park 9A2 team wrapped up their year.

"I make the best out of every season," he said.

So, too, do Wayne Tichon, Ralph Oswald and Rick Goosen. The three oldtimers were also there for the big day in 2007.

"Today is my anniversary," Oswald declared proudly. "Twenty-eight years ago it was 23 degrees (Celsius) when my wife and I got married."

Both Oswald and Goosen work in the construction business, which they admit is a little behind schedule because of the snow and frozen ground.

"The sun is shining, might as well go for a skate," Goosen said. "We have the best outdoor icemaker in the city."

Tichon, the president of RPCC, agreed. In fact, they celebrated Beaucage’s 25 years of service with a four-on-four shinny tournament in the winter. About 100 players took part. They also presented him with a commemorative jacket with "Ice Man" on one shoulder.

"It was (Beaucage’s) idea. We play a weekly game all winter, too. We’re not here to skate too hard and hurt ourselves," he said with a laugh.

While the ice was in great shape considering it’s spring, Beaucage said it paled in comparison to what RPCC has in the middle of winter.

"It’s usually like this in early November. This is a typical early-season skate," he said.

With temperatures expected to yo-yo around the freezing mark all week, Beaucage wasn’t ruling out another record-setting game of shinny.

"It’s a lot of work but if people want to keep coming out, I might as well do it," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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