CeeBee Stars give young fan red car­pet treat­ment

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Young CeeBee Stars fan Matthew Butt holds up the au­to­graphed stick he re­ceived af­ter his night with the CeeBees on Nov. 28.

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