CeeBee Stars give young fan red carpet treatment
It started with a simple question from a CeeBee Stars fan, but it turned into something else altogether.
A day before the CeeBees were set to welcome the rival Southern Shore Breakers to the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace on Nov. 28, Carbonear’s Matthew Butt pinned a message to the wall of the team’s Facebook group.
He asked if it was possible to keep the pucks that went over the glass during the team’s home games.
Butt is a superfan of the team and was hoping to carry home a round, black souvenir.
A skater in the CeeBees Minor Hockey Assocaiton’s peewee division, Matthew had been to four games but had never had a puck.
After a short conversation with some of the CeeBees faithful who regularly post in the group, it was worked out that Butt would get a puck and that some of his favourite players, including captain Robert Slaney, would sign it.
As this was happening, CeeBees president Mark Reynolds was on the ice at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts oblivious to what was happening online. When he was able to check it, there were plenty of messages about Matthew.
“When I got out, my phone was lit up with messages saying to check out what Matthew was saying,” he said. “After I had checked the messages, I immediately said, “Come up and drop the puck.” It kind of just happened.
“I did what my heart said would be nice thing for Matthew.”
Reynolds leaped into the fray and offered Matthew the chance to meet the team in the locker room prior to the game, skate in the warm up and drop the puck for the ceremonial opening face off.
When he was finished, Matthew received a signed jersey from the team, along with a signed stick that was used in the 2005-06 Herder run by one of the players on that team.
“It just spiraled into something that was pretty cool,” said Reynolds.
“He represented hope and that the hard work we’re doing is worth it. That is what we stand for and what the team is all about.”
They may not be pros, but those who play senior hockey in small communities might as well be. The young athletes in the region look up to them and use them as role models.
Just ask Robert Slaney. It was not too long ago that he was one of the young athletes who aspired to skate with the senior CeeBees.
He’d sit in the stands, watching the team and dreaming what it’d be like to be among them. There was a lot of Slaney’s story in what happened to Matthew.
“I could tell he was excited,” he said. “The CeeBees have always been a staple in the community and are players that young minor hockey players look up to. To see that young players like Matthew are still interested in the CeeBees, it shows appreciation towards the players.”
On the blue-line for the national anthem, Matthew stood between Slaney and defenceman Peter George. At some point, Slaney bent over and had a bit of a conversation with him. “I just gave him a little pep talk,” said Slaney. The experience resonated with the young man. “Thanks to the CeeBees for making me feel so good,” Matthew wrote on the team’s wall moments after the game had concluded.
It was a 5-4 CeeBees victory, by the way, and the team’s first regulation win of the season.
“For us, we love to see that people are still interested in our success especially when we started off a little slow,” said Slaney. “Any time we have the opportunity to give back and show our appreciation to them, it is something we’re going to take advantage of.
“You see fans like Matthew who still have this vision of the CeeBees that they’re some form of hero in the community, it just puts you over the top.”
Young CeeBee Stars fan Matthew Butt holds up the autographed stick he received after his night with the CeeBees on Nov. 28.