Wapella game will pay tribute to Blackhawk legends
January 10, 2022, 10:45 am
The echoes of senior hockey games past will come alive in the Wapella rink on Saturday, January 15 when the Moosomin Rangers take to the ice against the Wawota Flyers for a Big Six League senior hockey game that pays tribute to the legendary Wapella Blackhawks.
Wapella’s proud hockey history will be on display in living action that night when the Rangers don Blackhawks jerseys for the game with the names and numbers of former Wapella Blackhawks players on them.
Some of the players on the ice—such as Bud Holloway, Brayden Holloway, Devin McGonigal, and Levi Horn—will be wearing the jerseys of their relatives who used to play on the Blackhawks back when the team was known to be one of the best senior hockey teams in the province, packing the rink in Wapella every time there was a game.
The team was the home of the famous Holloway brothers—five brothers who were legendary for their hockey skill on the ice. Former pro hockey player Bud Holloway, who now plays for the Moosomin Rangers, will be wearing the jersey of his grandfather George Holloway—one of the five Holloway brothers—while player Brayden Holloway will be wearing the jersey of his grandfather Leeson Holloway, also one of the brothers.
After the game, all of the Blackhawks jerseys from that night will be auctioned off at a post-game social in the Wapella rink lobby.
It will be the first senior hockey game in Wapella since 1994 with the puck dropping at 8 pm that night.
Long-time Rangers executive member Donnie Ferguson, says he remembers when the Blackhawks were the pride of the senior hockey world.
“In the 1950s they had a whale of a team and Moosomin didn’t have a team then and that’s why the Moosomin guys went and played with them,” says Ferguson. “They would go to provincials and win or be right up at the top. And I remember going to games in Wapella and there were people sitting up in the rafters.
“I’d be seven or eight years old then and I remembered you’d go in there and hope that nobody had to go to the bathroom because there were so many people you couldn’t get to the waiting room.
“The women from the cafeteria came out and they went around the ice with a few carts and they sold coffee and hot dogs and chocolate bars and hot chocolate, and they served the people from on the ice because the people couldn’t get into the lobby.
“I’m expecting a whale of a crowd there (for this game on January 15).”
Wapella’s Bud Holloway, who has joined the Rangers for his first season after his pro career, along with his cousin Brayden Holloway, says he’s excited for what this game means for his home town.
“I have a lot of good friends in Moosomin, and with Brayden, my cousin being there too, it was another great reason to join the Rangers this year,” he says. “I just thought if I could get the game in Wapella, it would be a good thing for the Wapella rink. We haven’t had a lot of minor hockey teams in the last few years, and the last senior game was in ‘94 when my dad played. I thought it would be a special thing to have hockey back there.
“It’s a big hockey town, and everyone remembers the Blackhawks. Most of the hockey clubs remember them so I thought it would be a pretty cool thing. Moosomin took it a step further and got the jerseys for this game, and that was just awesome.
“I’ve been driving around doing hockey camps and I’ve talked to people in Carlyle and Esterhazy and everywhere and they ask ‘when is that game in Wapella?’ It’s not just isolated to Wapella, I think a lot of people are excited to see hockey back in the old barn, so it will be pretty fun. It should be a fairly good turnout.
“I think they all have memories of going and watching senior games there, or their family member or somebody played there, or they have relations in Wapella.
“It just seems like everyone has a bit of a memory of a game from a long time ago and they are excited to go back and see the game in that rink. It’s a really tight rink so things happen fairly quick and it will be fairly fast-paced hockey because it’s a smaller ice surface than Moosomin.
“It’s pretty special for me, getting to wear my grandpa’s jersey. I know how proud he would be. He’d be telling people since October when the game was first planned, he’d be telling everyone every day about it. For me that’s a pretty cool thing to get to wear his jersey.
“Hockey has always been a part of my family. I watched my dad play senior all the time and just loved to be at the rink. You’d always hear the stories—my grandpa would tell stories. I got to watch a lot of dad’s hockey, I was quite young but I still remember it. Those were quite special times for me. Watching that, listening, that just kind of pushes you, not so much to make the NHL, but just the love for hockey, wanting to be out there, wanting to play. When I was a kid, I was at the Wapella rink—if they had open ice I was there.”
Bud says he hasn’t played a serious hockey game on his hometown rink since he was a kid.
“The last time I played in that rink was probably when I was a Pee Wee or a second year Atom. I’ve played rec games but never a game that was being kept track of.
“It will be pretty special. I have the memories of going to games, and my dad after warmup would take me around skating with him between the warmup and the game and then I’d be able to sit in the crowd with mom or the other kids and watch the hockey game. Its a lot of emotion for sure, especially wearing grandpa’s jersey and having hockey back in that rink. It’s a really good thing for the community as well. Right now with everything going on and how crazy it is, it’s something to look forward to and I think everyone kind of needs that right now.
“The Rangers have done a great job as far as having the alumni game with the former Rangers and the former Blackhawks. The whole organization has been great for Wapella and trying to promote and do all that stuff to make this game happen. The alumni game was really fun to go watch. They’ve done a lot of really great things this year—we are really lucky.”
“As soon as I heard about this game, I was really excited and hoping that it would go through,” says Bud’s cousin Brayden Holloway, who will be skating with his grandfather’s jersey that night. “Everyone kept their word and did it. It’s kind of nice to see a game being played in Wapella, especially with the Blackhawks in mind playing it.
“I’ll be wearing my grandpa Leeson Holloway’s number. Our son’s middle name is Leeson, so we are carrying on the tradition of his name.
“My dad played up until ‘93, the year I was born. We all won a senior championship in the C division—my grandpa, my dad and myself.
“It’s going to be great, I haven’t played in Wapella in a long time. I’m really looking forward to getting back to the old ways and carrying on the Holloway name. Hopefully we can put together a fun game for everyone to watch and hopefully we can keep doing this every year. It would be really great, especially for the community. I look forward to playing every game with my cousin Bud, this one will just be a little more special with the family name.
“I think it’s just going to help out the community and keep awareness of all the great hockey players there were in Wapella. It’s a lot smaller center. My grandpa and Bud’s grandpa are both passed away now. I think it’s just a good tribute for them and keeps the name alive.”
Why are people so passionate about hockey in Wapella?
“I actually think it all started with those guys on that list of jerseys that we are going to be wearing,” says Brayden. “They gave everyone a fun reason to get out of their house and do something on the weekend, to go out and watch some hockey and socialize with people, and something to cheer for.” Tweet