Browner family feeling a void with no Royals to watch this winter

Dave Kearsey dkearsey@thewesternstar.com
Published on December 27, 2016

Dave Kearsey/TC Media Corner Brook’s Bernie and Lori Browner pose for a family photo with daughter Marissa, no doubt all decked out in Royals swag, at their Corner Brook home. No senior hockey has left a void in the family so they hope the Corner Brook Royals will return to senior hockey circles in the near future.

©Dave Kearsey/TC Media

Marissa Browner met her best friend Angela Fisher when she attended her first Corner Brook Royals game with her parents Bernie and Lori at the age of three.

This winter, Marissa is playing hockey for the first time, a proud member of Corner Brook’s Under-20 female team.

The 16-year-old Level 2 student at Corner Brook Regional High has lots to celebrate because of her introduction to senior hockey at a young age, but now she has a tremendous void in her life because the Corner Brook Royals folded from senior hockey circles earlier this year.

Marissa has spent most of her life watching the Royals. She loved going on road trips with her parents to watch games in other centres, usually six road trips per year kept them together as a family.

 “(Winter is) going to be pretty boring,” she said with a hearty chuckle. “There’s nothing to do without the Royals pretty much. There is some other hockey to watch, but it’s nothing like the Royals.”

Marissa’s bedroom is painted Royals colours on one side, with a few pictures of her posing with some of her favourite players, and the other side of the room sports the colours and crest of the Chicago Blackhawks, the other favourite team in the Browner family.

Her mom Lori is happy to see her daughter find happiness in hockey. Her mother knows that teenagers could spend their time doing a lot worse so she’s thankful for what the game has done for her child.

“How much trouble are you going to get in at the rink? Lori said. “It was just a thing we got used to doing. It became second nature.”

Bernie has been a loyal supporter of the Royals since the glory days of the 1980s when guys like Terry Gillam gave fans something to cheer about. He watched the Royals at Humber Gardens from his high vantage point in EE, the balcony seats above the dressing room entrances.

Nothing changed for him when the Royals started playing out of the civic centre.

Hockey became a family affair and it meant a lot to them, so the Royals being on the sidelines this season isn’t something they wanted to see.

“You always knew what you were doing on the weekend. You don’t have to plan it because you knew if there was a hockey game you were going to be there whether it was here or Deer Lake or wherever,” Bernie said.

In some ways, the family feels like they’ve had something dear to them taken away and they can only hope it returns sooner rather than later.

Lori believes senior hockey can be reborn, but she thinks a better effort must be made to make it family-oriented so the younger generation can be sold on the game.

“If kids are diehards and want to go, the parents are going to spend the money,” she said. “We would probably never would have stuck with the hockey if Marissa wasn’t so interested in it.”

Lori may be a big fan today, but it took her a long time to discover what she was missing.

Hockey wasn’t something her parents had any interest in and it certainly wasn’t on the television in her home growing up in Corner Brook. She recalls being a kid and the family going for a feed at A & W Restaurant and witnessing the long lines of traffic outside Humber Gardens on Sunday afternoons.

“I never ever got there. I never seen a game in Humber Gardens.”

She’s made up for lost time in some ways. Now the family can only hope senior hockey returns so they can break out their Royals jerseys again and enjoy life as a big hockey family.

Corner Brook’s Marissa Browner poses for a photo in front of her bedroom wall featuring the colours of the Corner Brook Royals.

©Dave Kearsey/TC Media