Mi­nor hockey tour­na­ment com­mem­o­rates tragic losses

Open­ing cer­e­mony of first an­nual Matthew Sar­gent tour­na­ment raised ban­ners to hon­our two play­ers

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - BY CLARENCE NGOH

GAN­DER, NL — Spec­ta­tors choked back sobs on Satur­day af­ter­noon as ban­ners were raised at the Steele Com­mu­nity Cen­tre to re­mem­ber two lost loved ones. Fam­ily and friends of Matthew Sar­gent, Num­ber 8, and Glen Furey, Num­ber 27, watched with tears in their eyes as the Gan­der Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion (GMHA) re­mem­bered the two play­ers at the open­ing cer­e­monies of the first Matthew Sar­gent Me­mo­rial Tour­na­ment. Sar­gent, 14, died in a boat­ing ac­ci­dent in May 2017. At the time of his death he had played his last tour­na­ment in the ban­tam di­vi­sion and was a mem­ber of the Gan­der Fly­ers team. Glenn Furey, 16, grew up in the Gan­der mi­nor hockey sys­tem and played for the ban- tam and midget all-star teams.

Furey died on Christ­mas Day, 1979, af­ter a bat­tle with cancer. Both play­ers were on spec­ta­tors’ minds this week­end. In the months fol­low­ing Matthew’s death, GMHA mem­bers knew they needed to do some­thing to re­mem­ber him. “We just knew we had to,” said Suzanne Tiller, par­ent rep­re­sen­ta­tive with Gan­der Mi­nor Hockey. “He was one of our own, and there wasn’t even a sec­ond thought (that we should hon­our his mem­ory).” The first an­nual Matthew Sar­gent Me­mo­rial Tour­na­ment, which be­gan Jan. 19, was es­tab­lished to hon­our and cel­e­brates Sar­gent’s life. As the song “Let it Go” by James Bay filled the sta­dium, the eight par­tic­i­pat­ing teams skated slowly onto the ice. They stood shoul­der-toshoul­der, and for that mo­ment, hockey was not about com­pe­ti­tion. It was about com­rade­ship, be­ing part of a fam­ily, hon­our and re­spect. And it was about re­mem­ber­ing a fallen mate. There was hardly a dry eye in the sta­dium and most faces were flushed red. Some tried to hold back tears, while oth­ers broke down. Some rested heads their heads on friends’ shoul­ders, and oth­ers hugged and con­soled each other. Along with re­tir­ing Sar­gent’s Num­ber 8 jer­sey, an­other ban­ner was raised to hon­our the mem­ory of Glen Furey, His num­ber – 27 – was re­tired by the mi­nor hockey as­so­ci­a­tion af­ter his pass­ing, and a ban­ner was raised in Glen’s mem­ory dur­ing the week­end tour­na­ment. The hockey as­so­ci­a­tion has con­tin­ued to present Glen’s tro­phy to the most sports­man and most ded­i­cated play­ers in the midget di­vi­sion. A seat in Glen’s mem­ory is also re­served in the Steele com­mu­nity cen­tre. Suzette Furey, Glen’s sis­ter, spoke on be­half of the Furey fam­ily dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony. She said this tour­na­ment will con­tinue to help many peo­ple cope with loss. “You have no idea (how im­por­tant) your pres­ence here to­day, and your ef­forts in putting this to­gether are in help­ing so many peo­ple,” she said. “You bring with you a lot of pos­i­tive ad up­lift­ing en­ergy. This will en­cour­age peo­ple to take part in the Matthew Sar­gent tour­na­ment to­day and in the fu­ture.” Depth of loss Gor­don Sar­gent, Matthew’s fa­ther, said wher­ever his fam­ily went — even on fam­ily va­ca­tions — Matthew would al­ways run into some­one he knew. The depth of the Sar­gant fam­ily’s loss is an over­ar­ch­ing shadow they con­tinue to push through. “Ev­ery­thing has changed, ev­ery­thing is dif­fer­ent,” said Gor­don. “Our fam­ily is very dif­fer­ent. We still strug­gle to go for­ward. “We strug­gle to talk about men­tal health in the me­dia and in the open but when you get plunged into it and go through it, you strug­gle with your whole fam­ily go­ing through de­pres­sion. “The lone­li­ness and the sad­ness is just a weight that you can’t lift out your­self.” Gor­don said he al­ways thought of his three sons as his “trea­sures.” “And ev­ery day I took my trea­sures and was thank­ful to God for them; it’s dif­fi­cult learn­ing to live with this grief and with this loss, and to carry for­ward and en­sure that my chil­dren un­der­stand I love them ev­ery bit as much.” Gor­don is thank­ful for the com­mu­nity’s sup­port, as well as the GMHA’s work to or­ga­nize the tour­na­ment. “For ev­ery­one who is wor­ried if we are get­ting love and sup­port, what you saw to­day was a great demon­stra­tion of how much love and sup­port the com­mu­nity has for us,” he said. Over­whelmed by emo­tions from the day, Gor­don said he and his fam­ily will seek some time for re­flec­tion. “I am prob­a­bly go­ing to come back an evening this week and just sit in the stands and look at (the ban­ner) and cry and ab­sorb it, be­cause there is so much right now that is a great feel­ing and of a tremen­dous loss and pain mixed to­gether.”

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON Gor­don Sar­gent, Matthew’s fa­ther, talked about the dif­fi­culty of los­ing his son, and of the bless­ings and sup­port he has re­ceived from the com­mu­nity and the Gan­der Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion.

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Ban­tam play­ers Nick Mur­ray, Ethan and Jared Davidge, Pat McCarthy, Aaron Feltham and Evan White played with Matthew Sar­gant in mi­nor hockey. They as­sisted with the un­veil­ing of the ban­ners for Matthew and Glen Furey.

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Matthew Sar­gent’s grand­mother, Mary Sar­gent, weeps as the ban­ners are raised.

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Suzette Furey, far right, spoke about her brother, Glen, on be­half of the Furey fam­ily. Glen died 38 years ago at the age of 16 af­ter los­ing a bat­tle with cancer. Glen grew up in the Gan­der mi­nor hockey sys­tem and played for the ban­tam and midget all-star teams. His sweater, Num­ber 27, was re­tired by the mi­nor hockey as­so­ci­a­tion af­ter his pass­ing. A ban­ner was raised for him this past week­end along­side one for Matthew Sergeant.

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

From left, Rhonda Davidge, Suzanne Tiller and Joy Mur­ray are some of the vol­un­teers from the Gan­der Mi­nor Hockey League com­mit­tee who or­ga­nized the first an­nual Matthew Sar­gent Me­mo­rial Tour­na­ment. Suzanne Tiller spear­headed the event.

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