Junior hockey unites us all
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.