Looking Back at Burton Hockey Christmas Sessions

The Christmas foot hockey session is a tradition older than the league itself. It's a celebration of friends coming back home to the Arrow Lakes Valley at holiday time to get together and play hockey, whether it's indoor or outdoor; Nakusp or Burton. As Christmas is just around the corner, talk has once again turned to putting together a Christmas session - or two - for the holidays. Last year saw the return of Burton Hockey's oldest tradition with just the second-ever session played directly in Nakusp (both were Christmas sessions). To get visions of wintertime hockey dancing in your heads, here's a history of Christmas sessions throughout history.

30 December 1999: This session inside the confines of the Fauquier Community Hall was unofficially the first Christmas session, predating modern Burton Hockey by a good four months. In a way, it was an impetus for what was to come, for almost all of the founding regulars were there (Klopp, Hornhardt, Hilton, Bilinski, Jackins, the Koth-Kappi), plus some other interesting players in the form of Logan Marchischuk, Andrew Watson, Bernadette McMechan (!), and, yes, your humble statistician in what is likely as close to actual Burton Hockey competition as I'll ever get.

30 December 2000 marked the official first Christmas session in Burton Hockey history, and was played inside the Nakusp Secondary School gymnasium. The NSS gym made for a wide-open 4-on-4 game with little scoring. It was a rather odd line-up, including the only appearance of Andrew Watson's older brother Stewart, who would actually led the session in scoring (and then look at your humble statistician's stat sheet and say, 'Points; those are goals plus assists, right?').

30 December 2001 was the first of a New Year's doubleheader at the Burton Community Hall (as such, it's actually considered the first session of the anaemic 2002 season). The tight confines of the Burton Hall (the smallest surface in Burton Hockey) produce extremely fast-paced 2-on-2 action with high shot volumes and save percentages, and this was no exception with Laird Bilinski becoming the first goalie to save 150 shots in a session here. Lee Orr and Stefan Klopp each had 90 shots on goal in the eight games played, and Lee set the Christmas session record with 28 points.

2 January 2002: Three days later, the gang reassembled in Burton for the second holiday session of the season. With Lee missing the session with the flu, brother Graeme made his debut and captured second star his first time out. Joern Hornhardt pulled off the impossible by actually recording a shutout in the Burton Hall.

23 December 2003: The strongest Christmas line-up of all time assembled in the Burton Hall for this session, led by the tandem of all-time great Robert Rogers and Bernie Koth-Kappus. Robert doubled the point totals of all other players with 15 goals and 5 assists in 5 games. Bernie took advantage of the smaller dimensions of the hall to take the second star. After the session, a Burton Hall tradition was continued with a shootout won by Chris Jackins, of all people, defeating the mighty Rob.

24 December 2010: The Christmas tradition was revived in 2010 as Burton Hockey returned to the actual village of Nakusp for the first time in a decade with a below-freezing session in the NSS parking lot (the ball actually broke in half at one point due to the cold). The story here was Seamus O'Connor, who made 145 saves in two games over the course of 90 minutes on a brand-new new Hockey Canada regulation net (that's 72.50 saves per game!) to stonewall his hapless opponents en route to a Christmas-record .895. Pat Strachan returned to Burton Hockey after six years to pick up third star here.

All-Time Christmas Session Scoring Chart (GS, G, A, P)
Stefan Klopp 22 31 15 46
Justin Gordon 16 29 16 45
Lee Orr 10 24 13 37
Bernie Koth-Kappus 24 16 21 37
Oliver Koth-Kappus 24 19 15 34
Laird Bilinski 3 6 15 21
Robert Rogers 5 15 5 20
Graeme Orr 7 8 11 19
Patrick Strachan 6 7 6 13
Lorne Bilinski 4 9 3 12
Joern Hornhardt 0 0 11 11
Stewart Watson 4 1 9 10
Mitch Peterson 5 7 2 9
Isaac Saban 4 6 3 9
Chris Jackins 7 3 6 9
Joe Chwachka 4 4 4 8
Colby Olsen 2 1 3 4
James Inglis 3 2 1 3
Jackson Hewer 4 1 1 2
Seamus O'Connor 0 0 1 1

All-Time Christmas Session Goaltending Chart (GG, SA, SGA, SPCT)
Seamus O'Connor 2 162 145 17 .895
Justin Gordon 2 39 33 6 .846
Laird Bilinski 12 245 206 39 .841
Joern Hornhardt 18 357 285 72 .798
Lorne Bilinski 4 67 50 17 .746


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