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Goalie Bob puts his amateur hockey career on ice after 39 years

05/05/2015 07:11 EDT | Updated 05/05/2016 05:59 EDT
Every Monday night for the past 39 years, Robert Woodcock put on his goalie pads to play with a Toronto hockey league. 

But the puck stops here.

The 74-year-old, also known as Goalie Bob to his teammates, has retired from his career as an amateur goalie after playing his last game. He called it "the most difficult day" of his life.

"The guy who runs this says, 'Bob, what are you going to do — stay or go?' and I said, 'I'm going to go,' and that was really hard. That was really, really hard," Woodcock said. 

Woodcock has had an enviable tenure at Chesswood Arena in Toronto's North York area, playing with the same Monday night league for 39 years. 

"I just love the game of hockey. To me, hockey's the greatest game in the world. To be able to play it at 74 years of age — I just feel so fortunate."

Woodcock said he's only missed one game due to illness or injury in his entire career with this league because of a gallbladder operation, although he still made sure to go to watch.

However, there was one game where he had to make a tough decision. 

'The bones are getting old'

"I'm embarrassed to say that when my brother passed away in Collingwood, there was a two-night wake and on the second night — it happened to be a Monday night — I thought, 'Oh, this is a dilemma,'" he said. "So I told my relatives that, 'You'll have to cover for me, I've got to go and play hockey.'"

"I knew my brother would understand." 

He has never been injured on ice, but Goalie Bob still decided last week that it was time to call it quits.

"The bones are getting old," he said. "When it takes four times as long to get up as you take to fall down, you start to think, 'Maybe I should pack it in.'"

"I think I can continue playing for another year or so but the fact is that we have 22-year-old kids and stuff like that. I can't compete with those kids," he said.

Woodcock said he might return to cheer on his former teammates and next season, he might even take up curling. 

The past few decades have been tough on his wife, Woodcock said, with Monday nights entirely dedicated to hockey.

"Now we can go away and not have that alarm clock ringing for 9:30 on Monday evening."

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