PORT McNEILL—North Island Eagles hockey standouts of the past and present — and most likely a few of the future — shared the ice at Chilton Arena and entertained more than 200 spectators in a hockey game to benefit the Gazette Hamper Fund.
The “old-timers” showed they still remembered their lessons, and imparted a few to the current Eagles midget squad in snapping a 3-3 and rolling to “victory” in the fun game.
The final score was a bit unclear, due to officials and public-address announcer Clifford Rosback arbitrarily waving off the occasional goal by the alumni team. But John Murgatroyd and Ray Bono each had hat tricks and Chris Dutcyvich and Al Rushton wreaked havoc on the midgets’ shorthanded blueliners working on Murgatroyd’s line.
“We had to let the old-timers get some goals so they could feel good about themselves,” midget coach Rob Brittain cracked.
Brittain was in the unique position of having one son playing for each team. Forward Robbie skated for the black-uniformed alumni team and defenseman Ty played for the midgets.
But this game was full of family connections. The father-son tandem of Bill and Ryan Rushton of Woss both skated for the alumni, and several more squared off across the centre line. Midgets Chad Bell and Tyson Cadwallader were opposed by their fathers, Mike Bell and Clint Cadwallader.
“It was a pile of fun,” Clint Cadwallader said. “Playing against kids you’ve coached is always a lot of fun. I think it would be a great idea if it continues on as a tradition.”
The Eagles hockey program has long been a contributor to the Hamper Fund, which provide holiday meals and gifts to needy North Island families. That involvement will continue, with each of the association’s home games in December designated as hamper games. Fans are encouraged to bring donations of new toys or non-perishable food to drop in bins that will be provided.
The public responded in a big way during Sunday’s alumni benefit game, quickly overloading an eight-foot table with food and toys, and adding more than $330 in cash donations and through a 50/50 prize draw.
The event was organized by Sue Bell and Leighann Ruel, and halftime entertainment was provided by teams of peanut players from the Port McNeill and Port Hardy minor hockey associations, who put on a vigorous exhibition while the big guys watched from behind the glass.
Cadwallader said recruiting for the alumni was no challenge, as skaters quickly signed on.
“We didn’t have to do much organizing,” he said. “It was easy getting the guys to come out. As long as someone puts it together, I can see it continuing.”