New Westminster firefighters are thrilled to be returning to Queen’s Park Arena to take on the Vancouver Canucks Alumni team in the Hydrant Cup.
Normally held every two years, the game is returning to Queen’s Park Arena on Friday, Nov. 4, after being derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We're going to do the game again this year for the first time in four years, so we're pretty excited about that,” said firefighter Ryan Heaven. “We haven't done it since 2018.”
Along with the on-ice action, the event includes a game featuring youngsters with New Westminster Minor Hockey during the first intermission, a Frisbee toss during the second intermission and an auction or raffle in the arena’s lobby. Kids’ activities will include balloon twisting and hockey-themed glitter tattoos.
“We're going to sell beer at the game for the first time this year,” Heaven said. “Steel & Oak is going to have a beer garden set up and we'll be serving Steel & Oak at the game.”
The Reel Mac and Cheese food truck will be on-site, and the arena’s concession stand will also be open.
Piva Modern Italian is hosting an autograph session with Canucks alumni from 5:30 to 6 p.m. in the lobby of Queen’s Park Arena. Some members of the NLL’s Vancouver Warriors professional box lacrosse team – Brandon Goodwin, Brett Mydske and Justin Salt – will also be at the game to sign autographs.
“It's a family event that you can bring your whole family to and have a cheaper night out at the hockey rink and watch, what we hope to be, a good-quality hockey game,” Heaven said. “But more importantly, it’s an opportunity to maybe even catch up with some people that you haven't seen in a couple of years due to COVID.”
Doors open at 5:15 for the pre-game fun, and the puck drops at 7 p.m.
Players lacing up the skates for the Vancouver Canucks Alumni team include Kirk MacLean, Dave Babych, Jannik Hansen and professional poker player Greg Mueller, who once played professional hockey in Europe. Former Canucks Gino Odjick and Darcy Rota will be on the bench as coaches.
Heaven and his older brother Clayton grew up in New West and played hockey with the New Westminster Minor Hockey Association. Having attended the Hydrant Cup as kids, the brothers – now both members of New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services – are stoked about returning to Queen’s Park Arena and playing against the Canucks Alumni.
“I remember growing up as a kid coming to the game and thinking that it was just such a fantastic thing,” said Ryan, who started working with the department in June 2020. “It's going to be really cool.”
Like his brother, Clayton is looking forward to playing in front of a hometown crowd in the city where they both work – in an area filled with nostalgia. Because of a four-year age gap, the brothers never played on the same minor hockey team, so they’re looking forward to suiting up and playing together in the game.
While the Heaven brothers are making their Hydrant Cup debuts, Capt. Bruno Morin is looking forward to returning to the lineup. He said he’s had a lot of fun playing against players like Babych – who once told him how much the Canucks Alumni team looks forward to playing in New West.
“It’s like this the atmosphere in Queens Park Arena, the nostalgia of that. He actually said it's one that people look forward to,” recalled Morin. “That meant a lot to me. That was great to hear.”
The New Westminster firefighters’ team is part of a morning firefighters’ league that plays against other Lower Mainland departments on Monday mornings in Burnaby.
“I think we have one of our most competitive teams,” Heaven said. “We have a couple of new people who have gotten on the job in last two or three years who are certainly helping our team look pretty sharp on the ice.”
The New Westminster Firefighters’ Charitable Society raises money that gets dispersed to various organizations and programs, including Meals on Wheels, Royal Columbian Hospital and the Lower Mainland Purpose Society. It hosts various events, including the Hydrant Cup, a Christmas tree chipping and a shred-athon, to raise money.
“Throughout COVID, we were unable to do as many events as we would have liked, that we rely on to raise as much money as we have in years past,” Heaven said. “This is one of our big events, if not our biggest event, and being able to bring this back to the community is certainly something we're looking forward to.”
Tickets for the Hydrant Cup are $5 for children and $10 for adults. They’re available at the Queen’s Park and Moody Park arenas, the Glenbrook Fire Hall (1 East Sixth Ave.) and G&F Financial (760 Sixth St.)