The blaring of the horns, the cheering of the crowd ...
When Ed Kearsey looks back on his senior hockey career, clearly the 1986 Allan Cup national championship run stands out.
From downing the Stephenville Jets to capture the Herder Memorial Trophy, then winning in seven games against the Flamboro Motts’ Clamatos to take the Bolton Memorial Trophy as Eastern Canadian champions, to, of course, the memorable sweep of the Nelson Maple Leafs to bring home Canada’s largest senior hockey prize.
But it’s the echoes of a motorcade, which started at Pinchgut Lake and went all the way to the old Humber Gardens in Corner Brook, that still reverberate.
“Who would have ever thought? It was almost out of this world,” he said of the experience. “There wasn’t enough room on the side of the road from what you could see of cars.
“It was unreal.”
Kearsey was one of six people announced Tuesday as the latest inductees into the Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador Hall of Fame.
As versatile a player as there was in the province, Kearsey could be either a smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman, or a shifty, high-scoring winger, depending on what day of the week it was.
He played six years with the Corner Brook Royals, capturing three Herders, two Boltons and the Allan Cup, and then coached the Royals to the Herder in 2002 when his playing days were over.
He scored a pair of goals in the fourth-and-deciding game of the Allan Cup series victory, topping out with 248 points (67G-181A) in 225 provincial senior hockey league games overall.
Kearsey said he’d be lying if he never thought of the possibility of a Hall of Fame induction, but was still honoured, surprised and quite humbled when he got the call.
Rob Forbes was a Royals teammate of Kearsey’s for about two and a half seasons and still remembers the effortless skating stride and the high hockey IQ of the newest Hall-of-Famer.
“I think that he is the type of player that today would go really, really far in hockey,” he said. “He’s one of those guys that scouts would say, ‘Hey, let’s take a good look at this guy,’ if he was playing today.”
Off the ice, Forbes said, Kearsey was laidback and easygoing — the definition of a great teammate.
“He was always fun to be around,” he said. “Just always in a good mood.”
The induction came as no surprise to Forbes, who said Kearsey set a standard in this province as a senior hockey player.
“I think he was as good as you could get without going any higher, for sure,” Forbes said.
Kearsey’s earliest memories of playing hockey were going with a neighbour’s family as a young kid to shovel off Second Pond and skate the day away.
When he found out the neighbour, Gerald McHugh, would take his family up to do this, he wanted in. He was told in no uncertain terms he would have to be up at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning if he wanted to go.
“I was up at his house waiting for him to get out of bed,” Kearsey said with a laugh.
Now it’s his turn to be a helping hand in a young hockey career, as he coaches his son Marcus with the Deer Lake Minor Hockey Association.
The slick skater who gave his all for the Royals on so many occasions is now giving back.
“Hanging out with (Marcus) and all the other kids, for that matter,” he said. “I enjoy it immensely.”
Joining Kearsey in this year’s Hall of Fame class is Michael Ryder, Glenn Critch, Derek Clancey, Darryl Williams and the late Kevin Fagan. The six will be inducted during Hockey NL’s annual Awards Banquet and Hall of Fame Inductions on June 10 in Gander.