Alan Becken will line up for his 16th national ice hockey campaign, set to play with and against players 28 years his junior.
A Stanhope Gardens resident, Becken said: “It’s always a privilege to be representing your state or your country, and I’m tickled pink to be representing NSW.”
The 52-year-old Canadian-born goalkeeper lost a whopping 23kg in preparation for the upcoming state competition using a program called Weight Loss Coaching Works which involves a high protein, moderate carb diet.
Born in Norquay, Saskatchewan, Becken made Australia home 25 years ago after meeting his now wife of 20 years.
He told the Courier ice hockey also gave him the opportunity to stay in the country, signing as player/coach for the Canterbury Eagles in the now defunct NSW Super League in the early 90’s.
“When I came over, I had just finished playing college hockey for three or four years. When I stepped on the ice with the players I was playing with, I couldn’t believe it. I remember thinking what have I got myself into.”
Becken played at the highest levels in Australia, including representing the country in 43 World Championships matches, saying “playing for Australia was an absolute honour and a privilege.”
The popular goaltender has been a big part of the Australian ice hockey community over the past two and a half decades, including as a foundation member of the Australian Ice Hockey League, Australia’s premier ice hockey competition.
He won competitions with the Sydney Bears in 2002 and the Sydney Ice Dogs in 2004.
In later years, Becken has played East Coast Super League, most recently representing the Blueline Bombers in the 2016 competition.
Fellow NSW goalkeeper Gabriel Robledo said although goalkeepers generally blossom at a later age, Becken has been able to keep himself in top condition, which he attributes to being a “fierce competitor”.
“To be playing at this age, you have to be good,” Robledo said.
“You can’t just rely on athletic ability any more and he’s been able to adapt with the game.”
Robledo said he was looking forward to “getting the band back together” after the pair previously helped the Ice Dogs to its 2004 championship.
Despite his age, Becken said he has no plans to hang up his skates any time soon.
“A wise person once told me, Alan, if you can play and you have a desire to play, play as long as you can because retirement is forever and forever is a very long time,” he said.
“I can honestly tell you that provided that my knees and my heart and everything else allows me to play, I’ll play probably well into my 70’s and 80’s if I can.”
The Brown Tournament starts Thursday October 20 in Adelaide and runs until Sunday October 23.