Const. Jason Tanham has been in hockey heaven in the last two weeks.
After watching his 14-year son play for Southern Ontario in a tournament in the Czech Republic, the 52 Division foot patrol officer witnessed Canada beat Russia to win the World Juniors gold medal on January 5.
“That was pretty awesome to be among the fans and we had an amazing time,” he said.
Five days later, Tanham was back at the rink, this time as a player representing Toronto Police against Toronto Fire during a weekend of free hockey courtesy of the Toronto Maples Leafs and SportChek at Nathan Phillips Square that included a Leafs practice.
“I grew up playing this sport and it is always nice to get on the rink,” he said. “It is also special playing in the Division where I work.”
A longtime Maple Leafs supporter, Tanham’s favorite player is Auston Matthews.
“His shot is unreal,” he added. “The release is pretty fierce and hard to stop.”
S/Sgt. Nancy McLean, of 52 Division, has been playing the sport since age 12.
“This is completely fun and it’s satisfying for me when you get to go out in the community and let them see us in a different light,” she said.
Const. Jennifer Nantais, who just stepped down as the president of the Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association, was very excited to join her work mates on the ice.
“Playing in the middle of Toronto right in front of City Hall is really cool,” she said. “I played the sport in university and at a higher level, so I am always ready any time there’s an opportunity to go on the ice.”
This is the second year that the First Responders game was held at Nathan Phillips Square with the police overcoming the fire squad this year.
“Most of the officers play the sport recreationally, but this is different in that they are playing outdoors in the middle of the city on an NHL-size rink that many of them don’t get the opportunity to play on often,” said Sgt. Robert McDougall who helped to put the TPS team together.
About 15 TPS members took part in the fun game coached by Rick Vaive who was the Leafs’ first 50-goal scorer and Gary Leeman who achieved the feat eight years later.
“Police officers and hockey players are similar in the sense they are successful when they work as a team,” said Vaive. “It’s always nice to come out and support anything the police and other First Responders are involved in because they risk their lives daily to keep citizens safe.”
Vaive will take part in the Leafs alumni game on January 12 to bring the curtains down on the weekend of activities.
“We have a blast and it’s always nice to catch up with your teammates,” he added. “I am still on the blades playing about 50 games a year even though I am not as fast as I used to be.”