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BATUS Hockey November 2006

Story by Sergeant Paul Holland, photos by Warrant Officer Derek Bailey

It was with "keen" response and overwhelming support that the Calgary Highlanders Oakleafs Hockey Club went to BATUS (British Army Training Unit Suffield), for what is becoming a popular and regular event: a match versus the BATUS Lions.

Christopher Tucker, captain of the team, and his entourage loaded into an assortment of military and civilian vehicles for the trip to Suffield. Unfortunately, he also had to deal with a lot of child-like questions of "are we there yet?" and "can we stop at Tim Horton’s?" Fighting through his desire to silence them all, he led the team safely to the awaiting British representatives, James Shepard and Dave Little (those that were around last year may remember Dave playing the pipes with a big fro wig on his head).

After a quick orientation briefing by our hosts, the oakleafs were given a much-enjoyed tour of the maintenance bays. The vehicles on display included, Challenger 2, an AS90 (self propelled howitzer), an armored recovery vehicle (in several stages of repair), a Chieftain AVLB ("bridge layer" for the un-informed), and lastly, a warrior AIFV (armored infantry fighting vehicle). The hosts provided a brief on all the vehicles and had SME’s on hand for more specific questions. The Highlanders kept the SME’s "current" on their technical data with plenty of questions.

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The troops were let loose for some "hands-on time." Some of the Highlanders were able to squeeze into the various tight spots to get an up close and personal look at life in an armored vehicle. MCpl Patton, "old blood and guts," was treated to a first hand tutorial in the warrior turret, while Sgt’s Holland and Tucker consoled each other, both were remembering life as mechanized infantry of days gone by. A smoke show, pivot turns and stopping maneuvers were demonstrated, much to awe of the Highlanders.

With the smoke fading and the engines turned off, it was time to go and change for the big game. The stands were packed with spectators, in anticipation of what was surely going to be a fantastic game. National anthems were played and both teams could feel the adrenaline beginning to pump. Our hosts had improved vastly from our last match up. Despite the fact that the Oakleafs did not have their regular goalie, MCpl Cody Martin "stepped" into the job. With skate’s two sizes too small, he displayed his form as a soccer goalie. BATUS managed to put 2 great goals past him. The second goal, scored by Dave Little, was a stinger in the top corner kindly placed where "mom keeps the peanut butter," without a doubt the goal of the game. It was heard that MCpl Martin was scared of the puck, but we forgive him. Penalties on both sides did not dampen either team’s spirit to play hockey. Dave Patton played well for the oakleafs by putting away a hat trick. After the final horn was sounded, both teams were congratulating each other for a great game. The spectators were on their feet with cheers and clapping.

After changing and some relaxation, the Oakleafs were treated to a dinner in the WO’s and Sgt’s mess. A dinner of curry and lasagna was served. Some Highlanders were kind enough to share their love of curry with the rest of the team during the drive home. It is a difficult drive on the number 1 highway with the windows rolled down. After dinner all participants were adjourned to the mess proper for some mingle time.

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A new game was discovered hiding in this mess. It deals with a hammer, some nails, and dare it be said, some accuracy on the players part. Strangely enough, the more beer drank, the more inaccurate the hammer, the more fun was had. Needless to say, this game is still on everyone’s mind. With the base RSM’s orders being followed, the mess was cleared at 2359 hrs, and the Oakleafs retired to their quarters. Sgt Tucker had the team up for breakfast bright and early the next morning only to find out our timings were a bit off. Cold breakfasts all ‘round and it was time to depart for the return trip home.

The Calgary Highlander Oakleafs Hockey Club would like to thank our hosts for what everyone thought was a truly excellent weekend of fun and camaraderie. One item that is of interest to the team is the fines for breaking team rules, a practice that may find its way into the CHOHC charter. Oh, the final score? Who cares, it was about playing a great game of hockey, enjoying a few pints, having a laugh, and laying the groundwork for the next game in Calgary.

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