Calgarian among players facing frigid weather to beat record for world's longest hockey game

The bitter cold isn’t deterring hockey players set on breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest hockey game as part of a fundraising event in Sherwood Park, Alta.

Game is being played outdoors in Sherwood Park despite extreme cold warnings

Players bundled and geared up to play hockey in the World's Longest Game event in Sherwood Park, Alta., from Feb. 4 to 14. (Mandy Kostiuk)

Most Albertans might be avoiding outdoor activities this week, with temperatures well below freezing.

But the bitter cold isn't deterring one Calgarian, along with several other players, who are set on getting into the Guinness World Records book for longest hockey game.

Troy Schaab has been braving long hockey shifts and cold temperatures this week as part of the World's Longest Game event in Sherwood Park, Alta.

He spoke with the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday morning after getting off the ice in an all-night shift that started at 12:15 a.m. and lasted until just after 6 a.m.

"We were braving those –42 wind chill temperatures here throughout the evening and it was something else," Schaab said. "But we got through it."

Players and volunteers posted pictures of loved ones who have fought or are currently fighting cancer. The World's Longest Game event runs all week until Sunday. (Submitted by Mandy Kostiuk)

The hockey game started last Thursday and will run until Sunday. It's the seventh edition of the event, which is put on to raise money in support of the Cure Cancer Foundation.

This year's goal is to last 252 hours to beat the last record of 251 hours.

'Surreal' game

There are 40 players, with 20 per team. Schaab says there are five players per line and they rotate shifts.

"Once we're done our shift, the next shift comes on and we creep back to our trailers and grab a quick nap before we have to get on for our next shift. And this goes on until we get to the 252 hours," he said.

There is also a dressing room on site, and Schaab says there's a 10-minute warm-up break while the Zamboni cleans the ice.

"It's the most precious 10 minutes ever," he said with a laugh. "I've never done something like this before, and I'm so grateful to be a part of the event."

A Zamboni smooths over the ice during the World's Longest Game event. (Mandy Kostiuk)

He says he has to take more time than usual to prep for the game to make sure he'll be able to stay warm.

"As cold as it is, you dress for it. You know, you put on three parkas," Schaab said. "We're finding ways to stay warm. So it's OK."

He compares the feeling he had during his overnight shift to the first time playing hockey as a child.

"You're kind of looking at the rafters and you're kind of daydreaming out there," he said. "That's kind of really what it was like overnight."

He says there was heavy wind, and for a while, before the Zamboni could come out, there was blowing snow on the ice.

"It was quite surreal," Schaab said.

A referee is bundled up while keeping an eye on the game. The World's Longest Game event is aimed to last 252 hours this year to beat the last record of 251 hours. (Mandy Kostiuk)

Not in vain

The event is partly personal for him — he says he has family and friends who are going through cancer.

"That's why I'm doing it. That's why the other 39 players are doing it."

Players hug as they play in freezing cold temperatures during the World's Longest Game, which started Feb. 4 in Sherwood Park, Alta., and runs until Sunday. (Mandy Kostiuk)

"It was very touching walking into the dressing room and a lot of the players, you know, we're all in the same boat," he said, adding many brought in photos of their loved ones who have fought or are currently fighting cancer.

"Our whole entire dressing room is filled with pictures," he said, noting some are also posted outside.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Schaab had raised $7,865 of his $20,000 goal.

He says it's not only players heading out into frigid temperatures for the event. There's also many volunteers, including referees. He says they're at approximately the halfway point.

"Whatever the temperatures are going to be, that's just what we have to deal with."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


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