When the White Rock Senior Hockey League first hit the ice at Centennial Arena, league founder and organizer Brian Brown didn’t figure it would expand much past the four teams that took part in the inaugural season.
Now, 15 years later, he’s very happy to have been wrong.
When the WRSHL season begins next month, it will boast 24 teams and 500 players, in three divisions, playing out of two cities. This year, the league expanded to Langley’s Walnut Grove Sportsplex, and added three Langley teams, the Lords, Fraser Sockeye and Beavers.
“It’s been really fun being part of this league since the beginning. We’ve worked really hard to get it to this point,” Brown said. “It’s funny to think that way back in the day, we started with just four (teams). I never thought it’d get bigger than that.”
Brown, who works for the Township of Langley – and is a former iceman in White Rock – said the league began so local players would have a chance to play close to home.
From the beginning, the league has also had a no-tolerance policy for on-ice shenanigans, which, Brown said, is something that appeals to men who are looking to enjoy a clean, fast-paced game.
“I always say that our league is more of a gentlemen’s club. We don’t want a bunch of roughnecks out there,” he said, adding that they’ve had to kick a handful of overly agressive players out of the league over the years.
“A lot of them come back begging to be allowed to play again, because they realize how good of a league we’ve got here, and they really enjoyed it.”
The league also tallies penalty infractions and once a player accumulates a certain amount of penalties on the season, they are no longer permitted to play.
Many players who sign up to play, Brown said, usually end up recruiting friends to join once they see what the league is like.
“That (word-of-mouth) has really helped us balloon up,” he said. “And once guys sign up, they usually don’t leave.”
The league is open to players 30 years old and older, and players under 30 are permitted if they are beginners. Each team plays a 21-game schedule – one game per week – that runs from Sept. 10 until Feb. 19. A season-ending tournament is held after the regular season ends.
Cost to play is $580 per player, which includes a uniform rental. For more information, visit www.wrshl.com or call 604-534-9525.