PEI

Why fellow musicians shouldn't mess with Rachel Beck

While the skill level ranges from former NHLers to musicians who have spent the week performing and partying till the wee hours of the morning, players say the ECMA Cup is all about fun for a good cause.

At the ECMA Cup, the fighting may be fake but the laughs are real

Rachel Beck chirps fellow musician Chris Ryan after they were sent to the penalty box for fighting during last year's ECMA Cup in Halifax. (ECMA)

At 135 pounds and with the fists of a pianist, Rachel Beck may not look like a typical hockey enforcer.

But there she was last year, playing in borrowed gear, the ECMA Cup on the line, looking to drop the gloves with rapper Classified.

"He's huge, he's so tall," said the Reckless Heart singer.

"I try to pick a fight ... but he was not having any of it. He's just a very gentle soul. He just laughed when I tried."

Laughs are what the ECMA Cup is all about, says organizer Tim Hardy, co-owner of the music publishing company Sound of Pop.

The game has been an unofficial part of the ECMA festivities for years, but last year in Halifax was the first where proceeds went to support the Unison Benevolent Fund, a non-profit registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community.

Proceeds from the ECMA Cup go toward the Unison Benevolent Fund, a non-profit, registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. (ECMA)

While the skill level ranges from former NHL players to musicians who have spent the week performing and partying till the wee hours of the morning, Hardy said it's all about fun for a good cause.

"Musicians tend to be the first people that you ask and the first people that volunteer and say yes to helping people out there working for different causes and donating their time," he said.

You can't get anything more Canadian than a bunch of musicians playing hockey.— Tim Hardy

"Everybody loves to play hockey, so you can't get anything more Canadian than a bunch of musicians playing hockey."

Some of the players signed up for this year's ECMA Cup — to be played May 5 at 2:30 p.m. at the Bell Aliant Centre on the UPEI campus — include former pros Cory Micalef, Gordie Dwyer and Darcy Simon, as well as musicians Brian Dunn, Chris Ryan, Jason MacIsaac, Thomas Stajcer, Troy Arseneault and Kyle MacNeil of The Barra MacNeils.

Two women played last year, Beck and Kinley Dowling. Dowling is out of town and won't be available, but Beck, who lives in Stratford, P.E.I., will be back along with Island artists Nikkie Gallant and Alicia Toner, as well as UPEI Panthers Faith Steeves and Kaylee Dufresne, to play in front of the hometown crowd.

The teams that participated in last year's ECMA Cup in Halifax pose for a picture. The 2019 ECMA Cup will be played May 5 at 2:30 p.m. at the Bell Aliant Centre in Charlottetown. (ECMA)

"I am excited to play again and I think just as terrified as I was last year but it was an awful lot of fun," Beck said.

"I didn't wipe out and my coach mostly used me to try to pick fights and throw some of the guys after game."

So watch your back, Chris Ryan. After Classified turned her down last year, Beck "scrapped" with the Newfoundland musician, and the chirping continued after they were sent to the penalty box.

A rematch could be in the works.

"I hope the community comes out," Beck said. "They'll certainly be entertained."

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About the Author

Shane Ross is a former newspaper and TV journalist in Halifax, Ottawa and Charlottetown. He joined CBC P.E.I.'s web team in 2016.

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