Hockey DayAbegweit Ice: Reflecting on Hockey in Charlottetown
Posted: Monday, January 16, 2012 | 03:34 PMBack to accessibility links
Al MacAdam, is one of the P.E.I. natives who understands the passion for the game. (Mike Dembeck/Getty Images)
Supporting Story Content
End of Supporting Story ContentBack to accessibility links
Beginning of Story Content
I was just a "kid from away" who had been weaned on the rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. Therefore, my first CBC assignment covering hockey for the supper hour news program "Compass," in Prince Edward Island, specifically Charlottetown, amounted to navigating uncharted waters.
With eyes wide open, I waded into those waters in the mid-eighties only to discover an icebound tradition...no let's say obsession...that was very deep indeed.
And in the provincial capital it was the intensity of the hockey and its principal characters that lifted the game off the rink and into the stands at the old Charlottetown Forum where Claude Vaive, the NHLer Ricky Vaive's dad, still operated the skate sharpening shop.
It was the blue haze of the smokers that hovered above the ice as the UPEI Panthers battled the despised Moncton Blue Eagles that gave proceedings an otherworldly feel.
It was old time hockey. You'd see the same teams over and over again and the same fans sat in the same seats at every game. It was, in a way, predictable but it was the drama that you never dared to miss.
You talk about rivalry.
The Leafs and Habs had nothing on the hometown Abbies and their coach, Forbes Kennedy when and the hated Summerside Western Capitals came to town. Every game was literally fought for tooth and nail and regional jealousies between the two cities boiled over and spilled onto the playing surface.
There were great players to watch. Albert Roche and Ronnie Carragher were the speedy stars of the university Panthers who were perennial contenders in what was then the AUAA. The team had great skill and incredible heart throughout the lineup. The coach was the affable Vince Mulligan who patrolled the bench while wearing a sort of pork pie hat vaguely reminiscent of Toe Blake or Punch Imlach.
And then there was that magical season in 1987-88 when the Charlottetown Islanders challenged for the Allan Cup against the Thunder Bay Twins. Prince Edward Island greats who had starred in the NHL came back to recall their glory days and as seniors lift Charlottetown onto the national stage.
Bobby MacMillan, who had been a 50-goal scorer and a big name with Atlanta and Chicago, was there and so was the soft spoken but rugged Al MacAdam who had produced so much with Philadelphia and Minnesota during an illustrious professional career. Even Hilliard Graves, who was actually born in Saint John, NB, brought his California Golden Seal credentials to the Islanders.
It was raucous and it was thrilling to watch. But mainly it was this loving attachment of the fans to local heroes that gave hockey in Charlottetown an irresistible appeal.
Abegweit is a Mi 'Kmaq word, which loosely translates to, "Cradle on the Waves." It was used in reference to Prince Edward Island itself but the local hockey team adopted it as a nickname. It was fitting, I always thought as a "kid from away."
As I came to discover during my too short time in Charlottetown, the game of hockey was held so incredibly close to the heart.
End of Story ContentBack to accessibility links
Story Social Media
End of Story Social Media
Latest NHL Stories
- Penguins snap Capitals' streak in wild clash of titans
- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals. more »
- Pens-Caps game has fans asking, 'Is this real life?'
- Longtime rivals Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals lived up to their billing in a barnburner Monday night. more »
- NHL 100: Tales from the police blotter
- In its 100 years, the NHL has been parked at the intersection of violence, emotion and money. Inevitably, some of that would spill over the boards into the criminal realm. more »
- Rookie Khaira's 1st NHL goal lifts Oilers over Coyotes
- Jujhar Khaira's first career goal was the winner as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 on Monday for their third straight victory. more »
Top Sports Stories
- Jose Bautista strikes 1-year deal with Blue Jays: reports
- The Blue Jays have retained one of their free-agent sluggers as Jose Bautista followed Edwin Encarnacion's recent signing with Cleveland by returning to Toronto on Tuesday, agreeing to a reported one-year guaranteed contract with mutual option years. more »
- Road to Pyeongchang: Canada ranks 2nd in World Cup standings
- After 276 events in sports ranging from skiing, to bobsled to figure skating, Canada is currently sitting second in the overall standings, 23 total medals behind Germany and just three ahead of Russia. more »
- Not Cool Runnings yet: Jamaican bobsleigh team needs a coach
- The Jamaican bobsleigh team has started a crowd funding campaign in order to hire a coach that can guide them to an Olympic podium in Pyeongchang, South Korea. more »
- Jean-Luc Brassard explains why Quebec is so good at moguls
- When it comes to moguls skiing, athletes from Quebec are the kings and queens of the hill. We caught up with Canada's first Olympic moguls champion, Jean-Luc Brassard, to find out the province's secret. more »
- Muhammad Ali's 75th birthday: Canadians recall their brushes with 'The Greatest'
- Seven months after his death, as we mark what would have been Muhammad Ali's 75th birthday, the man they called "The Greatest" still resonates with those he touched in the Canadian boxing community. more »
Send Your Feedback
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?