Islanders have a man to thank for helping prolong their hockey-playing days.
Ev White was instrumental in creating oldtimers hockey on P.E.I. when the national organization began in 1975 in Peterborough, Ont.
“Before they started oldtimers, when you got to be 35 you were pretty well too old. Nobody wanted you,” he said.
A phone call from organizers in Peterborough to Summerside asking if an Island team would play in a national tournament was the impetus for action. White was one of the people asked to play on a team that combined players from Charlottetown and Summerside.
“Angie Carroll was the coach and the first thing he said when we all got together for our first practice was, ‘now boys we’ve been enemies . . . I don’t want to hear any of that. We’re one team now.’”
Did it work?
“Perfectly,” White said. “That set the tone and there was not a word more. We were just happy to be there playing organized hockey.”
White was part of teams that played in regional, national and international tournaments for years.
He remembers playing the Finnish national team in Switzerland.
“We were ahead one goal, down two men and we had 37 seconds left,” White recalled. “They dropped the puck and I never left the circle. I just kicked it around between my skates.”
Fed up, a Finn came charging in from the blue-line.
“I saw him coming so I stuck my thigh out and he hit it and fell down.”
The Finnish player was assessed a penalty, the faceoff took place in the neutral zone and the Island team was victorious.
“We were going through the lineup and they were grabbing my gear,” he said. “I thought they wanted to fight.”
Finally he got the goalie, who spoke English, to explain what his teammates were saying. The Finnish players were grabbing White’s tricep and saying how strong he was.
White is considered by many as the father of the Island’s oldtimers hockey. He not only played, but organized many leagues and tournaments during the past 37 years.
“I just enjoyed doing it,” he said. “I like playing hockey and I like being around hockey and hockey players.”
White suffered cardiac arrest at the end of a game on Nov. 29 at Simmons arena.
“I was gone, but everything fell into place and they saved me,” he said.
He was heading to the penalty box to retrieve his spare stick when he collapsed. He doesn’t remember anything after that.
But those that were there called 911, started CPR and used the rink’s automated external defibrillator (AED).
“I’m just lucky to be here,” White said Sunday sitting in the office at the Simmons arena.
He was in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for 10 days before having triple bypass surgery in mid-December in Saint John, N.B.
He is back in Prince Edward Island and on the road to recovery. He walks regularly at the mall and may even get back on the ice in the fall.
“We’ll see,” he said with a smile.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Prince Edward Island chief executive officer Charlotte Comrie said fortunately there were people present with the training to help White.
“Performing CPR and using an AED before medical help arrives can increase the chance of survival up to 75 per cent,” she said.
Six AEDs have been placed in schools and other public places in Prince Edward Island by the foundation during the past year. Eight more are expected to be added, and training provided, in 2013.
A tribute night is planned for Friday during the P.E.I. Rocket’s game against the Rimouski Oceanic.
There will be a reception from 6 to 7 p.m. and various organizations will honour Ev for his contributions.
As part of February Heart Month activities, the foundation will assist White with the puck drop.
While quick with details from games decades ago, White said the sport is more about the camaraderie between the players.
“You remember more what happened off the ice, than what happened on the ice.”
Everett (Ev) White
u Who - A well-known organizer of oldtimers hockey teams and leagues. White’s involvement with oldtimers hockey began when he was 35 — that’s 37 years ago.
u Age - 72.
u Hometown - White Sands.
u Residence - Charlottetown
u Recognition - Was inducted into the Canadian Oldtimer Hockey Association in 1993 in Peterborough, Ont., in three categories (player, manager and builder) simultaneously.
u This week - A group involved with the oldtimers hockey has planned a tribute night for Friday at the P.E.I. Rocket with Rimouski. A reception will be held upstairs at the Civic Centre from 6 to 7 p.m.
u Tickets - Call Don Chandler at 892-6090 or Frank Morrison at 672-2567.