Ju­nior hockey unites us all

The Daily Courier - - OPINION -

Dear edi­tor: Back in 2015, it had not been a great deal of time since my dad had moved out west, but the Kelowna Rock­ets (now ba­si­cally his home team) were set to make a run to the Me­mo­rial Cup, start­ing first with the WHL cham­pi­onship, of course.

I flew out to see a bunch of the WHL cham­pi­onship games, and was there when they won it. Un­for­tu­nately, my dad wasn’t able to make the fi­nal game when they won, but he was sup­posed to come and pick me up after the game.

This meant I had a cou­ple of hours to kill, so I fig­ured I’d stroll down to where the play­ers were com­ing off the ice and see if I could score an au­to­graph or two on my jersey. I ran into Carter Rigby, a for­mer Rocket by that time, and got his, saw a few play­ers but didn’t want to push through a huge line of bois­ter­ous fans to try to bug these guys who were clearly just try­ing to get back to their dress­ing room to cel­e­brate to­gether.

So, at this point I say to my­self, “OK, may as well head over to the Train Sta­tion Pub across the street and wait un­til my dad ar­rives.”

I left out a more out-of-the-way door where the crowd wasn’t so thick and started mak­ing my way over there, and lo and be­hold, I run into the Rock­ets coach out­side catch­ing some fresh air. I stopped to say hi, and to con­grat­u­late him, and next thing I know Madison Bowey comes burst­ing out, gives me a hug. (He was a very ex­citable young man, let me tell you.) I asked him if I could trou­ble him for an au­to­graph, and he grabbed me and pulled me in the locker room. I didn’t end up get­ting many, but I did get to cel­e­brate with the team and meet a lot of hockey play­ers I look up to.

I know this story just sounds like it’s mostly about me, and my ex­pe­ri­ence, but it’s not. I’m sure ev­ery­one has a favourite hockey story, this one hap­pens to be mine that I wanted to share with ev­ery­one.

I re­mem­ber a lot of things about that night, meet­ing some fu­ture NHLers, the ex­cite­ment of watch­ing them hoist the cup after the game and skating around the ice with it. But, the thing I will al­ways re­mem­ber most, is the sense of broth­er­hood, ca­ma­raderie, and the sense of an un­break­able bond and fa­mil­iar­ity that you share with the peo­ple you fight ev­ery game on the ice with.

That, and get­ting to share a num­ber of those games with my dad were so spe­cial to me. And I think what I’ve taken away from this whole thing, is that fam­ily is pre­cious, don’t take for granted what can be gone to­mor­row, and hockey re­ally is some­thing that unites us all, in one way or an­other. John-Michael Lelievre Hamit­lon, Ont.

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