The familiar chant of “Go Deer Lake Go” or “Go Red Wings Go” echoing through the walls of the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex is something Melvin Chaulk would love to hear again.
Chaulk has been a die-hard supporter of the Deer Lake Red Wings in senior hockey circles all his life.
It only makes sense that he’s feeling a void in his life.
That void is present due to a lack of senior hockey at the rink this winter.
That void exists because Chaulk’s beloved Red Wings didn’t ice a team in the West Coast Senior Hockey League this season after they couldn’t come up with a full roster of players need to compete.
Chaulk has had to get his fix for the game by watching high school hockey and some high-level minor hockey this winter.
“It’s terrible that there’s no hockey. That’s what we live for. I never missed a game,” he said. “I loved it, but without the Deer Lake Red Wings and the Royals as far as I’m concerned there’s no hockey because the rivalry was always good.”
Chaulk enjoyed the calibre of play in the league, but he also had a lot of fun in the stands cheering for his team and carrying on with fans from the Royals.
He met a lot of people who cheered for the other team and they had fun poking fun at each other.
He’s hoping that the Red Wings organization can find a way to get a team back on the ice so fans can fill the stadium the way they did so for the dozens of years he followed the team.
There has always been an appetite for senior hockey in Deer Lake.
The stadium was always filled and the rabid fanbase let people know who they were cheering for on the weekends.
Chaulk would like to see a group of fans work together to form a solid group that will do what it takes to get senior hockey back in the town.
“I was always involved somewhere behind the scenes or doing 50-50 and it was all volunteer, and there were no handouts or people looking for money, but to get volunteers today is a hard thing to do,” Chaulk said.
Former Red Wings general manager Perry Compton would love to see it happen, but he doesn’t see it materializing anytime soon unless there is a committed group of individuals interested in doing the work to make it happen and keep it viable for future years.
Compton admits there is a lot of interest in a return of senior hockey from a fan perspective, but he can’t say the same when it comes to people giving up their free time to serve on an executive to oversee the operation.
According to Compton, there are plans to hold an open meeting at the end of the current senior hockey season to gauge interest in getting the team back into the mix.
But that won’t happen without a group of 10-12 volunteers who are willing to serve on the executive and share the heavy workload that comes with running a senior hockey team.
Tony Smith is another fan who is missing senior hockey.
Without the Red Wings to watch, he decided he wasn’t willing to travel on the highway to watch any games this winter.
He would love for senior hockey to return, but he has his doubts about it coming back unless somebody is willing to put in the time and resources required to get it going again.
For Chaulk, he hopes it isn't too long before those familiar chants return.
It’s been long enough for him without them.