The whirlwind weekend for the Orillia Terriers ended Saturday in Corner Brook with the Heroes of Hockey Day game at the Civic Centre.
The team from Ontario were meeting the Corner Brook peewee A Royals on the main ice a couple hours before the Senior Royals battled the Stephenville Jets in senior hockey action and Hockey Day in Canada did a live broadcast.
NHL legend Lanny McDonald offered advice on Orillia’s bench, while Toronto Maple Leafs great Darcy Tucker did the same on the Corner Brook side.
The Terriers got here after raising money for a young child in their area through hard work and dedication. Their coaches wanted to teach the players about work ethic.
So, they had them work 40 hours a week at whatever they could, be it helping out around the house or doing something for their neighbour. The only stipulation was that they earn a stipend for every hour worked.
The team pooled their money and put it towards sending the child — who had a heart transplant — and his family to a Toronto Maple Leafs game.
The deed attracted the attention of Scotiabank and after winning the second season the Heroes of Hockey Day competition, they got the chance to come to Corner Brook.
“It’s been amazing (to be a part of),” said Royals coach Mike Fagan of hosting the Terriers. “The kids have loved it.”
What makes the story even better is the how it started for the group. They started their fast-paced friendship with a team meal.
After the customary feeling out process, the teams quickly shook off any shyness and before long were sharing hockey stories, comparing their favourite teams and generally becoming friends.
Then, there was the gift exchange. Each team produced something for their counterparts.
The Terriers had toques, while the Corner Brook group offered Hockey Day in Canada togues, pins and a special banner signed by every member of the team and coaching staff.
Chances are, the banner will end up flying at the Terriers home rink in Ontario.
The pin exchange was always a big part of any All-Newfoundland provincial minor hockey tournament I was a part of.
Prior to the start of any game, both teams would line up on their blue-lines before meeting at centre ice with pin in hand.
We’d exchange pins, shake hands and head back to our benches. We stilled wanted to beat the other team, but suddenly there was a personal connection there.
I remember getting items from the Goulds Pacers, Trinity-Placentia TeePees, the Avalon Celtics and others.
Eventually, the pins found their way to a old ball cap I had laying around my room. Each tournament meant the addition of at least four new pins.
I believe I can still put my hands on the hat now at my grandparents home in Bay Roberts and no doubt, it carries a couple of memories.
When teams hit the ice for the actual game inside the civic centre, they weren’t wearing their own jerseys.
Instead, they had one white and red Scotiabank uniforms, each with the number one on the back. Instead of being opposites, now they were just two sides of the same coin.
Just three dozen or so young athletes enjoying the game they love.
The gift exchange helped a little with that.
— Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with the Western Star. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at email@example.com