York Street arena was the place to be on a Friday night

Like many other people over the last couple of weeks, my thoughts have gone to days/evenings spent at the York St. arena.

I remember when the arena was first built; remember Hurricane Hazel coming through and taking down some of the building while under construction. I was about six when I started going to hockey games as my family had season’s tickets to the original Comets, Intermediate team and were faithful fans.

The first arena manager was Sherman (Cy) Albertson, coming here from same position in Marmara. Cy was well known around the rink as was his wife Thelma who with the help of ‘Hockey Moms’ ran the canteen. They later became my in-laws when I married their nephew Ken.

Though I learned to skate on a creek near my home, I enjoyed many hours at arena, skating with friends, round/round to the catchy tunes of the era.

Later, hockey was the Junior C, Kelly Tire Men, Raiders and the good old South Lennox league. That was the place to be on Friday night to watch the local guys play representing places like Selby, Hawley, Newburgh, etc; often followed by fries and burgers at the Playtime Restaurant.

There were always great rivalries with Gan and Picton and playoffs were always fun with every nook and cranny of the arena full of people.

The upper area was the ‘happening’ place before the game and between periods. Catch-up with friends and grab a snack or a delicious hot chocolate.

The canteens by this time were run by Weeses’; Jack, Barb and family. They were always there for every event; including the famous and well-attended Boxing Day Tournament. Even guys who had moved away and were back home for Christmas, made a point of sticking around for the games.

Another opportunity to watch great hockey came again when the Comets were revived, this time with a Senior A team; some familiar faces in John Hartwick, Rick Gerow, and NHL draftees, Wayne Elder and Steve Rexe with Dick Cherry as a former NHL player. Again we had season’s tickets.

There was power skating and house league hockey with our son. Nothing bonds parents like sharing a coffee at 6 a.m. for a hockey practice.

Great coaches over the years who gave so much time to minor hockey. Like most organizations, many programs could not have run without all the volunteers who put in a lot of hours at the rink.

End of season carnivals were a great time to show case all the hard work done by the Figure Skating Club over the season; with the wee ones often stealing the show.

With Ken working on Recreation for two years and being at arena for two winters; I also got to see the hard work put in by all the staff at the arena. My fondest memories are of time when Cy and Walt Gerow were managers, but many good managers followed.

I am sure there have been and will continue to be great memories made at SPC; but there are a couple of generations who’s hockey hearts will always be on York St.

Sally Kimmett Rhyndress

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