On a frosty Friday night the spectators come from miles around to support their NHL hopefuls. With several ex-pros in the crowd on any given night, those dreams seem close enough to reach out and touch through their visibly exhaled breath.
“My favourite memory is noon-hour practices coached by my father,” reminisces local AAA Midget Coach and former WHL standout Derek Tibbatts. “They weren’t just fun shinny practices either, but all-out burners.” With the rink being located mere steps from the old school (no longer in operation) kids in Foxwarren received an equal education in both traditional academics and hockey tactics.
“It’s about more than hockey though, it’s about passing on traditions about work ethic and community to our kids. Our rink is more than a place to play hockey, it’s our coffee shop, town hall, our meeting place, and over the winter it’s our home,” says Tibbatts. “Kids understand that and don’t balk at helping with painting, ice making, fall suppers, etc.”
While much of the hockey universe now revolves around expensive hockey academies and elite personal training services, Foxwarren knows that the traditional recipe of an old barn and a village to support it still works just fine.
There is no lock on the rink’s door, as this small town believes the gift of hockey belongs to the whole community and should be shared at whatever hour an opportunity presents itself.
“Hockey is what brings Foxwarren together,” Barteaux says, “The rink is the heart of the town.” The young Regina Pats defenseman is only the latest in a long line of hockey greats from the rural hamlet. In recent years Barteaux has been joined at the game’s highest pre-professional levels by several elite female players from the area who have successfully made the jump to college and university campuses across North America. Together they are proof that small town Canada is far from having taken its last shift on hockey’s world stage.
“I spent more time at the rink than I did at my house — several hours every night. Even now when all the collegiate and junior players come home at Christmas, we’re at the rink every day. It’s a second home to me.”
Barteaux hopes to don the Canadian jersey again in 2018 when he will be eligible to play in the IIHF World Juniors Championship in Buffalo, New York. Join Barteaux and Canada’s other talented youth in their quest for hockey supremacy by entering the RBC World Juniors Contest for 2018 — you could win two tickets to the exciting New Year’s Eve match up!
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