VIDEO: Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens play to the crowd in Nelson

The Kootenay Patricks and Montreal Canadiens alumni share a photo at the end of Thursday’s charity game. Photo: Tyler Harper
Montreal’s Jocelyn Lemieux has a pre-game chat with Kootenay Patricks player Vincent Deslauriers. Photo: Tyler Harper
Nelson’s Paul Major suited up for Montreal on his 70th birthday. Photo: Tyler Harper
Local novice players spent an intermission scrimmaging with the Habs. Photo: Tyler Harper
No helmet needed, right Jocelyn Lemieux? Photo: Tyler Harper
Montreal’s Patrice Brisebois leads minor hockey players through a quick stretch. Photo: Tyler Harper
L-R: Len, Ray, Brad and Alan Major each travelled to Nelson to watch Paul Major play for Montreal. Photo: Tyler Harper
Pierre Dagenais makes a face for the camera in the pre-game skate. Photo: Tyler Harper
The Patricks scored the opening goal, and the game was on. Photo: Tyler Harper
Justin Pickerell smiles as he’s introduced to the crowd. Photo: Tyler Harper
Fans young and old took in Thursday’s game. Photo: Tyler Harper
Montreal’s Mathieu Dandenault celebrates a goal with two minor hockey players. Photo: Tyler Harper
Kootenay Patricks press for another goal late in the game. Photo: Tyler Harper

Vincent Deslauriers skated off the ice, looked up at the buzzing stands and beamed.

“Oh man,” he said to himself. “I feel like I’m six years old.”

He wasn’t the only one on a special night in Nelson.

Deslauriers and the Kootenay Patricks, a collection of local hockey players, hosted the Montreal Canadiens alumni Thursday night in a charity game for Nelson’s Make A Change Canada before a joyous crowd at the Nelson and District Community Complex.

But as soon as the puck dropped, it was clear this was no ordinary hockey game.

When Derek Diener scored 30 seconds into the game for the Patricks, players from both teams gathered for an impromptu picture at centre ice that turned into a pie in Diener’s face.

The Habs meanwhile were in Nelson to score goals and put on a show. Oleg Petrov, 48, hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2002-03 season, but he spent the game skating around players as though they were pylons and scoring at will.

Defenceman Mathieu Dandenault took pleasure in playfully riling the crowd with his goal celebrations, and Patrice Brisebois earned some fans when he led local novice kids in a stretch and shinny at the first intermission.

There were also a number of good humoured Harlem Globetrotter-esque pranks. The best came late in the game when Dandenault faked an injury to distract the Patricks while Pierre Dagenais skated by the Kootenay bench and dumped water on the players.

Even though the Canadiens were the main attraction, there was plenty of love for the Patricks. Goaltender Chris LaValley made a series of saves in the first period that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the NHL, and each goal scored by the locals was met with a roar of approval from the crowd.

And what a crowd it was.

A busy playoff game for the Nelson Leafs might top 1,000 fans. On Thursday the NDCC was packed an hour and a half prior to puck drop. Organizers didn’t announce a final tally, but every seat was filled and fans lined the concourse to watch the show.

Allen Chatten, a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, watched the game dressed in a vintage Wendel Clark jersey. “This is amazing,” he said. “All the different jerseys, all the people celebrating a good game of hockey. You can’t complain.”

Tannis Killough, who stood out with her Saku Koivu jersey signed by Habs legend Jean Beliveau, said she grew up listening to hockey on the radio in Kettle Valley.

“Everybody was pretty much a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, because that’s pretty much what they broadcast in those days,” she said. “I just remember for some reason in Grade 10 announcing to the world in general I was now a Montreal Canadiens fan, and I’ve been one ever since.”

Len, Ray, Brad and Alan Major travelled to see Nelson’s Paul Major suit up for the Habs as one of the team’s two thrill-of-a-lifetime participants. Len flew in from Florida, Ray and Brad drove from Windsor, Ont., to see their brother, and Alan extended his holiday trip back from Australia to see his uncle play.

All four wore Habs jerseys with Major’s name on the back, but they hid a little secret — none of them were Montreal fans.

“I am a diehard Bruins fan,” admitted Brad Major, who lifted his pants to reveal Boston socks. “But there’s no way I’m going to let this shirt burn.”

The Nelson Leafs, meanwhile, had some unexpected representation at the game.

Just over an hour before the puck dropped, Leafs assistant coach Adam DiBella was asked to play for the Canadiens when a few alumni were held up in Vancouver.

DiBella hustled home to grab his gear, which he said he hadn’t put on as a player in four years. Before he knew it, DiBella was playing alongside NHL legends and even managed to finish with an assist.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It was a bunch of Stanley Cup winners, and me.”

The game eventually ended, and players from both teams gathered at centre ice for handshakes and photos. One of the teams had won, but the last thing anyone leaving the rink cared about was the final score.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

charityNelsonNHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmo RCMP report drug bust

Fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine were seized along with Canadian cash

West Kootenay SPCA hopes you’ll have a heart for Cupid

Cat who tangled with a bobcat seeking a permanent home

New ‘hub’ model takes regional approach to doctor recruitment in West Kootenay

Kootenay-Boundary a provincial leader in effectively attracting doctors to work here

The Rossland Skating Club year end show

Year end show for Rossland Skating Club

Not Your Typical Sonata to entertain and support a Rossland charity

Admission proceeds will go to supporting “Cycling Without Age”

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Most Read