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Senlac revives minor hockey after 25 years

A remarkable achievement in Senlac as the community revived minor hockey after a 25-year absence, credited largely to a baby boom in the area and determined volunteers to see hockey return.

SENLAC — In the hometown of famed NHLer Curtis Brown, after 25 years of minor hockey being absent from the community and arena at Senlac, the Senlac Junior Sabres emerged for the 2022-23 hockey season.

 “The recent baby boom we have had in the last four and five years allowed the idea of having a team again some day in Senlac,” says Shane Forbes, who originates from Senlac and is one of those involved with minor hockey’s revival in the small community.

“When this year rolled around and we started collecting numbers, it was clear that we had more than enough players to ice a team.”

Forbes said when he played hockey in Senlac as a kid the team was known as the Senlac Junior Sabres and the name carried forward from that tradition.

“We weren’t sure how the year was going to go so we only booked a handful of games, one in Unity, a couple in Neilburg plus played in a Neilburg tournament. The team will play their fourth and final game in Senlac on March 5 against Unity.”

Forbes said local creator, Brenda Pool made their jerseys and offered the club a good deal on them, with the team replicating the same jerseys from the last team in Senlac a quarter of a century ago.

Volunteers run the rink, and everyone is happy to pitch in and help as the excitement of having hockey played out of this little community rink is evident.

“Not one kid had played hockey before this year and without this team starting, I’m not sure if any of these kids would have played organized hockey this year. Being able to provide this opportunity for kids in and around Senlac has been a truly special experience,” adds Forbes.

An added trivia note that became part of the Junior Sabres story was that three parents who played on the last team based out of Senlac in 1998, had kids on the 2022-23 team.

Players were excited to have wonderful fan support and although they didn’t understand the nostalgia that was part of their on-ice experience, those in the stands sure did.

 “We are taking it one year at a time, but with the good group of four-year-olds and some more kids starting next year we are hopeful to have this team playing for years to come,” Forbes says.

Forbes says he believes the Senlac arena was built in 1971, by volunteers.

“It has always been the great volunteers in the community that have allowed the rink to say operational throughout the years. There have been many fundraisers put on for the rink and work bees to complete repairs and maintenance since it was built. The people of Senlac have always stepped up.”

The team knows that without this support the rink would not have been viable to operate for this generation of kids, and they would have never had the opportunity of skating in Senlac.

The 2021 census showed Senlac had a population of 36 living in town, which doesn’t account for people living on farms and ranches in that area.

Senlac’s famous resident, Curtis Brown, played with several teams in the NHL and is now a hockey broadcaster in California.

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