‘Hockey night is hockey night’: Diehard Winterhawks fans married for 55 years

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 10:55 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Scratching that seven-year itch it’s Portland and Seattle in the WHL playoffs for the first time since 2015. For longtime ticket holders Jan and Dave Vandervort, this is just another piece of hockey history in the Rose City, and they’ve seen a lot of it.

“It’s what you wait for!” Jan said. “You go all season praying for the playoffs and that’s the best.”

Hockey is a hobby and a way of life for the lovebirds in Section 2, Row O, Seats 14 and 15.

“Every game. I had my hip replaced last year, I was only gone for 8 days and missed one game,” Jan said. “I had breast cancer surgery on the 5th of October, and I was back here after missing only one game so I don’t miss games. It’s got to be a death in the family for me to miss so, I love it!”

It all started with work and pleasure for the Portland Buckaroos.

“I was running camera at the games for KPTV with no fence, no glass,” Dave said.

Safely together some six decades later, the passion Jan and Dave have for the hawks continues to burn on the ice.

“Hockey night is hockey night. Thursday night is our date night, and we go out every Thursday night for drinks and dinner and live music,” Jan said.

It’s been that way for their 55 years of marriage

“Well, here we are, baby! It was meant to be,” Jan said,

Jan, Reynolds High Class of ‘62 and Dave from Benson ‘54 have one daughter but they also house 13 sons.

“I lost five after her and just never had a boy which I wanted desperately,” Jan said, “I never intended to have an only-child.”

“That is why we picked up some hockey players,” Dave added.

The Vandervorts hosted those Hawks as a Billet Family from 1989 to 2002.

“I had two rules, mind the Winterhawk rules and do not bring four guys home for dinner without letting me know ahead of time and I don’t mean 15 minutes ahead of time, because you’ll get pizza!” Jan said.

When Jan’s childhood polio came back to really affect her health two decades ago, the hockey mom became a full-time fanatic for the boys from Portland.

“Four percent will make it to the big show but watching them try so hard is the best part,” Jan said.

Game four now shifts to Kent where The Thunderbirds call home then game five will be right back in Portland for the best-of-seven series.