Temperatures were low but spirits were high Saturday morning at the community arena in Lower Sackville, N.S., where hundreds gathered in support of Tyne Valley, P.E.I.
That community lost its arena to a fire just a few days after Christmas. Both communities submitted bids to win Kraft Hockeyville, but Sackville withdrew its bid to support Tyne Valley.
The rally brought people together from across the Maritimes, including a full bus from Tyne Valley. From entire minor hockey teams, to tiny Timbits players, to beaming parents and grandparents, the event brought warmth to an otherwise bitterly cold morning.
“It’s awesome,” said Jamie Munroe, a hockey dad with the Sackville Minor Hockey Association and organizer of the rally.
“As you can see, there are jerseys of every colour here. It’s unbelievable, really.”
Munroe is also the man who withdrew Sackville’s bid in support of Tyne Valley.
The humble hockey dad first learned about the fire in Tyne Valley when he was in P.E.I. two weeks ago for a hockey tournament with his son. At one of the games, he met another parent who happened to be a volunteer firefighter in Tyne Valley. Munroe said it was devastating to see the photos of the arena burning to the ground.
“It was a four hour ride home, and I just started thinking about Tyne Valley a lot and how they don’t have a rink at all,” said Munroe. “Our rinks need work, but they are both fully operational.”
The next day, Munroe went to the Kraft Hockeyville website and posted that he would like to retract his bid and give his rally points to Tyne Valley. If the P.E.I. town wins, the community would receive $250,000 for arena upgrades and an NHL pre-season game.
“Every time something happens in the community we always band together,” said Munroe.
“I had a son who passed away last Christmas, and the hockey community rallied around my family and helped us through it. I guess I just wanted to give back to our community.”
The campaign, which has become known as “Rally For The Valley,” is garnering attention and touching the hearts of many people across the Maritimes.
Adam MacLennan is the former manager of the Tyne Valley arena and current chair for the Hockeyville bid. Along with over 50 others, he made the bus trip from P.E.I. to show his gratitude. He also got to meet his new friend, Jamie Munroe.
“This is crazy,” said MacLennan as he took in the vibrant scene at the Sackville arena.
“There’s so many people here we don’t even know. But that just goes to show what sport can do. What communities can do to rally and pull people together. We can’t thank them enough.”
MacLennan and Munroe have been talking every day since Sackville withdrew their bid. MacLennan said though the rink is gone, the memories will live on and he is struck by the bonds that are being made because of it.
“It felt awesome to see the bus (from P.E.I.) arrive,” said Munroe. “It was like my friends were coming home.”
Among those at the rally was Sackville resident Barbie Burkert. When she was going through a tough time in 2008, she recalled how the hockey community supported her, and, to this day, hasn’t left her side. She said she’s floored by what Munroe is doing for the people of Tyne Valley.
“I believe in community for community,” said Burkert.
“I believe we’re all put on this earth to help each other. Hockey is really about family and bringing them together in one way or another. It’s like our own church.”
The winner of the contest will be announced on March 28, but Munroe and MacLennan’s friendship won’t end there. The pair has already made summer plans for a family camping trip in P.E.I.
“The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind,” said Munroe. “It’s very humbling.”
About the author
Alix is a journalism student at the University of King's College. She left a career in geology to play soccer professionally in Europe, before...