SYDNEY, N.S. - Scientists at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., are helping determine the age of a very old hockey stick, originally from Cape Breton.
Colin Laroque, head of the dendrochronology lab at Mount Allison, said tree-ring aging is being used to compare the hockey stick to living trees near North Sydney, N.S.
The stick is made of sugar maple from the Pottle's Lake area and dates back to the 1800s.
Laroque said the tree-ring pattern clearly visible on the butt-end of the hockey stick was scanned into a computer and he hired students to take core samples of old-growth maples in the Pottle's Lake area this summer to gather ring patterns for comparison.
"We go backwards in time and see if we can make a match," he said.
Hannah MacDonald, a Marion Bridge, N.S., student who has since graduated, and Sarah Quann of Ingonish, N.S., who continues to work in the dendrochronology lab, have both spent time working on the project.
The researchers received permission to remove core samples from eight trees in the area, but not all of them were old enough to provide a proper comparison, Laroque said.
"Even if the four or five cores we have now tell us an answer, it may not be enough to statistically be significant," he added.
Laroque said the dendrochronology lab will continue to work on aging the hockey stick, but it is likely the results will only be made public if the stick's owner decides to release them.
Bill Fitsell, a historian for the International Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum in Kingston, Ont., described the stick earlier this year as the best example of a mid-1800s hockey stick.
He cited documentation that suggests its original owner was W.M. Moffatt of North Sydney, N.S., who was born in 1829 and whose family had a homestead on Pottle's Lake.
The stick's current owner, Mark Presley of Berwick, N.S., has said the stick might even date back earlier, into the late 1700s.
Presley bought the stick in 2008 from a retired barber in North Sydney, who had displayed it in his shop for more than 30 years.