Montreal may be the birthplace of professional hockey as we know it, but not everyone gets the chance to make it to the pros. Luckily for those who still love the sport with a burning passion, there's the ligue de garage. Our friends Mathieu and Hugo were kind enough to invite us to a game and show us what amateur league hockey in Quebec is all about: blood, sweat, tears, and yes, a whole lot of Canadian beer.
The name "garage league" was coined from the jerseys many of the early teams wore—sponsored by local garages and repair shops, with the names of the business displayed across the back. Most of the equipment is second-hand or well-used, and time slots are generally rented from local school rinks on nights when there are no games scheduled. The players may be construction workers, doctors, bartenders, or barristers by day, but when the puck hits the ice, they're all business.
Today, the garage leagues are part of the larger "old timers leagues" that many Canadians play in well after high school or college. It is a way for adults to continue with the sport they love, but it's also a chance for old friends to get together, catch up, and have a few Labatts—which are enjoyed in the locker room both before and after games.