Thirty–one year old Ben Savage from the sunshine coast in Australia got his Christmas wish at the Westport Arena.
Westport Lions Roar
By Lion Bob Reddick
The Westport Lions Club is not the only group in Westport to bring Christmas joy to individuals. Ever since Australian Ben Savage saw his first live NHL game in 2019, he has wanted to try playing hockey. Westport’s 55+ hockey group helped Ben to fulfill his wish this past holiday season.
The first time Ben tried skating in Kingston, it did not go so well. “All these little kids were buzzing around me.” “I was heading towards a father and his son, and I couldn’t stop,” said Ben, “So I picked the bigger of the two.” All Ben could say was, “Sorry mate, it was either you or your son.” For his own safety and the safety of others, Ben decided to leave the ice.
Ben’s second time donning the skates went much better. After a couple old-timers assisted Ben in getting on all the goalie equipment, he was ready to hit the ice. When Ben was asked if the experience offered any surprises, he said, “When you fall, it hurts.” “The group was so much faster than I expected.” That comment made the 55–79-year-old players feel good, but it was quickly pointed out to him that 20-year-old players would be much, much faster.
During the game, Ben said he found it difficult to get from one side of blue paint to the other side in the goalie crease. “I found the best strategy was to stand in the middle of the net and hope for the best but found that really didn’t work.” Ben was overly modest and made several great saves, especially when he kicked out his right leg and made a skate save. Back in Australia, Ben was an avid cricket player.
Ben and his partner Alicia Dawson were visiting the Westport area to celebrate the holiday season with Alicia’s family. He managed to play three or four games with the old-timers and made steady improvement.
When Ben is not playing hockey with the Westport old-timers, he is a high ropes technician in Victoria, B.C. This job requires a high level of skill and specialized training. Ben was recruited to Canada by his former boss. Ben’s job involves drilling and blasting rock from cliffs along highways so rock debris doesn’t fall on cars. He will tackle any job that involves repelling.
The 55+ hockey group was happy to help Ben to strike off an experience from his bucket list and make his Christmas wish come true.