The following is an excerpt from the pending non-existent, non-fiction literary gem: “Chunky Monkey and the Lads.”
Friday morning, Oct. 23, it’s early, way too early, but the Chunky one is up and at ’em for what won’t be the experience of a lifetime. It’s 6:15 a.m. and he drags his mini-suitcase with his favourite pillow towards the rink for a 7 a.m. departure.
Land Skipper Marc has the Canada West Highway Monster all fired up and sleepy- headed jocks stumble from vehicles to their next place of slumber with pillows and blankets in tow.
Lars “Mother” Pittendreigh is directing traffic now, as the dozy ones gather sticks and equipment for the three game soiree in the Kootenays. Jason “Lanny” Lans, the equipment guru, attempts to remember to pack everything, knowing in the back of his mind, something will be left behind, hopefully not one of the kids. Somehow everyone gets on board with their “stuff” and gets settled in for the pending first-of-the-day sermon from the front.
Head Coach Brad “Foxy” Fox climbs on the coach and takes his place front row right. He checks some notes written the sleepless night before, gets up and barks “Listen up….”
Each and every time during the weekend the same two words grab the attention of all 28 passengers aboard the SS Heat. Fifty-six eyes pay attention as 56 ears don’t listen as the day’s activities are laid out. The seating order is part of team protocol, staff up front, then rookies and the vets at the back. For the players it is a rite of passage, privilege and status to get to the back.
Off we go, for the seven hours of semi-consciousness interrupted by a quick stop at “Tim’s” in Golden. Our home for this venture is the Model A Motel in Cranbrook and meals are bacon and eggs, pasta and pizza, with burgers in the middle as a post- game break from the norm.
Friday night is potentially “Fight Night in Fernie” as we meet up with the Ghostriders, but no fisticuffs arise. The locals take this one 4-3 as the Heat never get out of second gear.
Zach Fournier scores on the power play in the first from Travis Beaubien and Alex Durbeniuk, zip in the second and, in the third, Fournier again from Durbeniuk and Logan Mostat and then Kolten Moore from Fournier and Beaubien.
Saturday arrives and everyone kicks around “Cranberry Junction” for the day before hopping on the SS Heat for a Saturday Night Special in Creston with the Thundercats. The only scoring in the first is Mostat from Grady Musgrave and Michael Fidanza, in the second a pair from Creston, and in the third Spencer Farstad unassisted and then Farstad again from Cale Marchuk and Trevor Okino. Two overtimes later and a 3-3 tie is the result. Two talented teams leave it all on the ice, including 16-year-old Nolan Parr, dropping the mitts against an older opponent and winning the decision in his first bout.
Sunday afternoon on the way home we stop in Kimberley to take on the KIJHL League Champion Dynamiters in their classic retro nostalgic barn. The class of the circuit, they let us play equals with them through the first where they get one. In the second we get one, but unfortunately they get five… and game over. Except there was another period for them to add to the insult and, after two more, it’s an 8-1 victory.
The abandoned goaltenders Daniel Toews and Nic Bruyere saw lots of unwanted action over the three games as they watched their goals-against balloon. So back on the bus and off home we travel past elk, deer, mountain sheep and crazy drivers, living for another day to potentially tell another tale of bang and crash, slash and whack, twists and turns on and off the ice.
All in all a single point but more importantly lost in it all, a huge bonding opportunity where friendships were made for life.