Ex­tra treat for fans

Hockey lovers get to see Kow­boy Mike Hughes do bat­tle

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MACDON­ALD

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.”

MITCH MACDON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

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.

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