The Canuck Alumni are home with the hardware. The hallowed Hydrant Cup will remain in the Alumni trophy case for another two years.
The Canuck veterans prevailed in a goaltenders' nightmare on Friday night (Nov. 30th), emerging with a 13-9 victory over the New Westminster Fire and Rescue Service at legendary Queen's Park Arena in the Royal City. Even the addition of legendary former New Westminster Bruins head coach Ernie 'Punch" McLean behind the host team's bench wasn't enough to stop the Canuck legends from recording their fourth successive victory in the biennial challenge.
A couple of Ernie's 'kids' did a lot of the damage for the visitors. Ex-Canuck and former WHL Bruin, Cliff Ronning, scored the hat-trick for the winners. Another one-time Bruin, Mark Lofthouse scored once and set up three more, while Canuck broadcaster Dave Tomlinson and linemate Gregg Neeld each potted two, with Ring of Honour goalie Kirk McLean, defencemen Garth Butcher and Jeff Bandura and forwards David Bruce and Randy Heath each getting singles. None of this would have been possible, of course, had another of Punch's former students - Stanley Cup-winning LA Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford - not made the long walk over from his home on the other side of First Street, to lend his coaching expertise to the Alumni cause, backing up former Canuck defenceman-turned-Alumni-coach, Doug Halward to craft the win. Even Canucks mascot Fin was on hand to help Fire Service mascot Sparky with the glad-handing and cheer-leading.
Oh, the other guys tried their best to take back their trophy. They even brought in a 'ringer' from Maple Ridge: one-time Canuck centre Dennis Pederson - who joined the Canucks along with Brendan Morrison, in the trade that sent Alexander Mogilny to the New Jersey Devils in 2000 - got the Firefighters' first and last goals of the game ... but, aside from a three-goal performance from event director and New West Firefighter Paul Adamson, that was about all the organized offence the home team could muster.
Regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard, the day's events - both on and off the ice - again resulted in some excellent numbers for the Firefighters Charitable Society, with a substantial donation to the cause thanks to the overall fund-raising effort ... and another generation of young hockey fans exposed to the work done by their local firefighters in promoting fire safety and supporting the local hospital burn units.
And, no doubt, it will produce a renewed invitation to the Alumni to come back in 2014 to once again set fire to their hosts' hopes of ever claiming title to their treasured Hydrant.
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