‘Rink Rats’ reunion

By Lori Larsen

Cleaning the arena ice  wasn’t always the job of the modern day ice cleaners. In fact, it was quite an arduous task that more often than not took a crew of three people or more to manually shovel for almost an hour.

Those unsung heroes, however, have not gone forgotten. In fact, one particular Camrose group of “Rink Rats” is fondly remembered by Dennis Pellrene.

“In the age before the Zamboni, in the mid 1950s, volunteer youths from the east end of Camrose scraped and cleaned the ice between periods of the Maroon games and were on call for any other events through the week,” recalled Dennis.

“Of course, there were rats before us and after, but this was sort of our club.”

A club that consisted of Walter Byers, John and Jim Kehoe, Kerry Grettum, Dennis Pellrene, Don Syrnyk, Dale Sjervin, Dennis Mohler and Lyle Holmes. According to Pellrene, Dennis Mohler and Lyle Holmes have since passed away.

“The reward was that we could play hockey after the Maroon games while Prosper Atkinson and his helper Elmer would clean the seating area.”

The Camrose Maroons were an intermediate hockey team playing in the 1940s and 1950s, including some seasons in the Central Alberta Hockey League. The Maroons won the Alberta intermediate A championship in 1948.

“This building was the mecca of hockey, all other hockey was played on outdoor rinks,” said Pellrene.

“It was fun and, of course, we could see all the Maroon games and on occasion get a broken stick, take it home, glue it and clamp it. Now, I had another stick to use on the way to school practicing my stick handling skills.”

Simple rewards for simpler times one might say, as Pellrene shared that another advantage of the hard labour these “rink rats” put in was once the ice melted in the spring, they could play broom ball on the slippery surface.

Hoping to share some more memories and no doubt a few laughs, Pellrene is planning a reunion of the “Rink Rats” of the 1950s on September 6, at 9 a.m. at the Norsemen Inn and invites any of the group who are still around, or anyone else who would like to spend some time reminiscing of an era gone by, to come down and join him.