Extra treat for fans
Hockey lovers get to see Kowboy Mike Hughes do battle
They came for the hockey, but stayed for the wrestling.
Fans of the Charlottetown Islanders and UPEI Panthers hockey teams got an extra treat during Saturday’s Hockey Day on P.E.I. festivities.
Although it didn’t exactly revolve around the winter sport.
Instead, fans were treated to a wrestling event held in between the two teams’ games.
“It was awesome,” said Noah Wolfe, a minor hockey player with the North River Flames. “I’d watch it again, definitely.” Wolfe’s friend, Michael Arsenault, who plays for Mid-Isle Matrix, was also pleased with his first time watching a live wrestling event.
“I’ve only ever seen it on TV before,” he said.
Heavyweight champ Kowboy Mike Hughes, said the night saw an opportunity to help the teams while also promoting Red Rock Wrestling in front of nearly 2,000 Islanders.
“It’s been phenomenal feedback. My phone has been going off with people saying how great the show was,” said Hughes, who will also have a biweekly show called Red Rock Rewind begin this Tuesday on Bell TV.
“I don’t think people realize the high level of wrestling on the island . . . hockey fans like to see athletic, physical sports and wrestling gives them that, but it’s amplified with the theatrics. So it was a perfect fit.”
Apart from bringing in some new eyes, it also provided some variety to the day.
“I think if they had free hockey games in between, people would have gotten tired of the hockey,” said Hughes.
“Having us in the middle probably made them more vocal for the games and gave us an opportunity to keep them at the rink.”
The event saw Hughes take on the wrestler they call “Answer” in a title match, which wasn’t without some hockey reference.
Crowds cheered when Hughes’ tag-team partner Titus jumped into the ring and delivered some Canadian justice by bashing the villainous American Patriot with a hockey stick.
Jason MacLean, sales and marketing director for the Islanders, said he heard nothing but positive comments.
“People really enjoyed it and basically our goal was to give them a full day’s value,” he said.
“There’s been that connection between the Islanders and Kowboy where he’s rallied for us before and supported the guys.”
Hughes has recorded promotional videos for the Islanders and also leads the team to the ice during important games such as playoff bouts and this season openers.
While Saturday offered some cross-promotion, the day still focused on promoting hockey on P.E.I.
Minor hockey players sold tickets for the full-day event for $20, with their teams keeping half of the profits.
In total, more than $10,000 was raised for minor hockey across the province.
MacLean said the group will continuing building on the initiative.
“This year was bigger and better than last year and we’ll be looking at how we can enhance it for next year,” he said.
“We really appreciate people taking the time of the day, the crowd support was amazing and there was definitely a buzz.”
That buzz also seemed to prop up the Island teams.
The Islanders defeated Rimouski 3-1, while Panthers Mason Wilgosh scored in overtime to best Dalhousie 2-1.
“Everybody won. Islanders won, Kowboy kept his belt and then the Panthers won,” said MacLean.
“Everyone went home happy.”
Minor hockey players, from left, Callum Hemphill-King, Eli Gallant and Ben Wood all gave a thumbs up towards the Hockey Day on P.E.I. festivities held at Eastlink Centre Saturday. The day saw games for the Charlottetown Islanders and UPEI Panthers, as well as a Red Rock Wrestling match held in between the games.