The puck was skittering around center ice when Bill Oliver gathered it in with his stick, weaved his way through traffic into the offensive zone, skated free of a closing defenseman and wristed a shot into the corner of the net.

Oliver is 72 and has been skating since he was 18 months old, when his father, serving in the Canadian Air Force, mailed him a pair of hockey skates. He started skating on the ponds and backyard rinks that dotted his hometown of St. Catharine's in Ontario and has been playing hockey ever since. He has all his teeth, a triumph.

Oliver is one of a couple of dozen players age 70 or older who, despite age, illness and some artificial joints, show up to skate on Tuesday mornings at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, Maryland. They come for the exercise and also because it keeps them off the streets and is better for the aging process than, say, staring at shopping channels on TV.