The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - 2020-03-25





PORT AUX BASQUES, N.L. — Hockey angels were making miracles in Port aux Basques recently as COVID19 restrictions brought an end to the local minor hockey season. Players graduating from the program were disappointed to learn March 12 their under 18 Blaze hockey careers were abruptly over as Hockey NL announced all hockey was cancelled. It also meant the team would not be hosting its annual Easter tournament and closing banquet in their hometown, something that rarely happens for graduating players. But players’ moms, fans and a local restaurant came through to deliver a quickly planned celebration of their own for the team. Hockey mom Cindy Butt completely understood the players’ feelings. “I guess I have known them all since babies, many of them have hung out with my boys over the years and they have come around the house so much,” said Butt. “And having two other boys graduate from minor, I got to see and experience first-hand what it means to them.” She created and presented her plan for a final game and banquet to captain Alexander Carter who approved. Butt booked the ice for 90 minutes Saturday night and the players paid the rental fee. They also invited the graduating girls to play during the final game. Two officials agreed to volunteer and Aaron Hayes, also a hockey parent to two graduated players, handled music. Melanie Walters, a graduating player’s mother, appealed on social media for donations and everyone brought food for the meal. Pizza Delight, owned and operated by Peggy Mcneil and Sarah Hatcher, also donated pizzas for the celebration. Butt has many memories of the impromptu evening but one will always stand out. “I was sat at the table collecting the money and a graduating midget came and sat across the table from me and broke down in tears. I asked what was wrong and he said he couldn’t believe his hockey is over. It brought me to tears. I told his mom and she said it’s not everyone he will open up to like that. That same player after supper came over to me and hugged me and thanked me.” The arena was closed down the next evening at 6 p.m. Marcus Walters, who has been involved in minor hockey since he was four years old, also appreciates the community effort. “Skating my last skate with all teammates who came together for us, since our Easter tournament was cancelled, was one to remember. “We all become family and do what we can for each other and our love of the game,” he said. Carter said it’s hard not to feel cheated and hurt by the sudden end to his hockey years. “When I pictured the end of my hockey career, I never saw it coming like this,” he said. “Had it not been for the parents, we would’ve ended our seasons, and hockey careers, on a practice and I don’t think that would’ve done it any justice. We all appreciate the thoughtfulness and efforts from all of the parents to give us something that we could remember.”


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