It’s not the way most teen-age hockey players spend their time away from the rink, but Sheldon Argent is having the time of his life.
The 19-year-old forward with the Melfort Mustangs is in Alberta for an extended stretch competing in the Alberta Professional Chariot and Chuckwagon Association tour and prior to the season’s first race in Rocky Mountain House he explained how he got involved in the sport.
“A few years ago I went out west with a buddy to Ponoka, Alta., and I watched him race,” says Argent, who is coming off his first full season with the Mustangs after spending two years with the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s Tisdale Trojans. “I really liked it so I started racing the next spring.”
That was three years ago and Argent continues to travel with his buddy Denver Leach and the rest of his “adopted” family - older brother Cody Leach and their father Bob Leach.
Some might consider it odd for Argent to be involved in such a sport since he has little farming background. He says his mother grew up on a farm and his sister was in 4H, but it was just the excitement of the sport that drew him to it.
“You are always on the go – you are always doing something,” notes Argent. “Then there is the rush when you get to hear that horn go (to start the race).”
Argent says he didn’t need special permission from the Mustangs to spend his offseason in this manner, but he does understand that hockey still comes first as he will have to miss some of the late-season races to get back to Melfort for the start of training camp.
“I’m excited for next season,” says Argent. “I don’t like to get off the ice.”
Argent played in 37 regular-season games for the Mustangs last year and scored one goal. In eight playoff contests he had a goal and an assist and it is expected that he will be given a much bigger role this season as he has a history of bringing leadership to a team as evidenced by his being named captain during his final year with Tisdale.
For now, Argent will concentrate on steering his chariot as best as he can and hometown fans will be able to see him in action later this summer when he rides in Melfort on July 19-21 and then heads to another event in North Battleford at the end of July.
There will be a lot of dust eaten and miles put on the road, but Argent is thankful to the Leach family for being able to do this. In a way it takes his mind off hockey, but his first love is never too far from his thoughts.