Skat­ing for the Kyle Cup

Kyle Cup car­ries on tra­di­tion of shinny hockey glory

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

For older hockey play­ers who don’t nec­es­sar­ily get in as many skates as they once did in their youth, the chance to makes some plays on a crisp ice sur­face makes for a welcome event. Guys from Har­bour Grace and River­head meet up each year over the hol­i­days for a fun and friendly game of shinny hockey, play­ing for the cov­eted Kyle Cup.

Over the course of an hour or so, a group of men who are all too fa­mil­iar with each other’s skills on the ice will take a crack at claim­ing hockey supremacy.

On one side, there’s Da River, a team made up of play­ers who call River­head home. Then there’s the North Side Stars, fea­tur­ing guys who grew up east of the Irving gas sta­tion in Har­bour Grace.

Smack dab in be­tween River­head and Har­bour Grace sits the S.S. Kyle, and that old ship serves as the name­sake for the Kyle Cup. That’s what these guys play for in the an­nual game of shinny hockey.

It’s be­come a late-De­cem­ber tra­di­tion for close to 30 years, and Kenny Hunt has been a part of it more of­ten than not, bar­ring in­jury.

“The last cou­ple of years I haven’t been play­ing it be­cause of in­juries,” ad­mits Hunt, who had to sit out this year.

“We try to keep it old school as best we can. There’s lots of new blood and young blood want­ing to play this game.”

He de­scribes the Kyle Cup as “a friendly game of shinny” built on the ri­valry be­tween folks from River­head and Har­bour Grace. It al­ways hap­pened at S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium, though the game played Dec. 28, 2016 took place on the ice sur­face of the brand-spank­ing-new Danny Cleary Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Har­bour Grace.

“We were com­pan­ions, but when it came to sports we were sort of ri­vals,” said Hunt, who al­ways suits up for Da River.

There have been some no­table com­bat­ants over the years. Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Daniel Cleary has on oc­ca­sion laced up his skates for Da River, and Cory Crocker has skated with the Stars.

The an­nual game of shinny hockey is one of many typ­i­cally tak­ing place over the Christmas hol­i­days. The CHVO Cup pits Har­bour Grace against Car­bon­ear and has a his­tory that’s decades old, and there’s a Box­ing Day skate that’s be­come an an­nual tra­di­tion for quite a few years.

We were com­pan­ions, but when it came to sports we were sort of ri­vals. Kenny Hunt

The game is usu­ally played on some date be­tween the 27th and 29th day of De­cem­ber. It’s only within the last 10-15 years that play­ers have ac­tu­ally had a piece of hard­ware to vie for. It was Kenny him­self who pro­vided the tro­phy.

“That was ac­tu­ally my idea,” he ex­plained. “We had a tro­phy just kick­ing around from a pre­vi­ous league, and I took it, brought it into St. John’s and got it re­stored and shined. I just put some pic­tures of the Kyle around the tro­phy and made up the plac­ard.”

With many of the play­ers hav­ing chil­dren of their own play­ing hockey, these days the group will book an ex­tra hour of ice-time. They’ll have a game with the kids to start things off prior to play­ing for the cup.

Once the game is fin­ished, ev­ery­one heads to Rod Reynolds’ house for an after party. That’s also where the score is filed away in a book Rod keeps in a cup­board.

“The tra­di­tion was when you’d go back to Rod’s, he al­ways wrote down the score,” said Hunt. “When Rod first built his house, that’s the only records we have … Prior to that, they’ll ar­gue who won.”

The Kyle Cup gen­er­ally fea­tures play­ers who’ve been there from the start, with a few ex­cep­tions.

The Kyle Cup is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to be a friendly game, though the shoot­ers still pre­fer to see pucks make it to the back of the net.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTOS COURTESY CHRISTINA COX

Play­ers from the 2016 edi­tion of the Kyle Cup pose with the cov­eted tro­phy on the ice sur­face of the Danny Cleary Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Har­bour Grace.

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