When the Montreal Canadiens alumni teams appear at venues across the country, the games they play aren’t meant to be competitive affairs — there is no body checking — but rather fun and entertaining shows for those in attendance, often with a charity as the beneficiary.
A fun game is just what the Canadiens alumni got at Torbay’s Jack Byrne Arena Tuesday against a squad of local rec-leaguers and again Wednesday night at the Glacier, when they took on the Avalon East senior league’s Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Electric Senior Blades.
However, a couple of former Canadiens say it appears the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars didn’t get the memo.
The CeeBees and Habs legends met Monday night at S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace, and according to former Montreal stars Stephane Richer and Claude Lemieux, the CeeBees took the game a little too seriously.
“They are a good young team, and they are proud,” Lemieux says of the defending Avalon East champs.
“We were 12 guys to their 24 ... rather short-benched, but they were flying and gave it to us pretty good.”
In one instance, Richer says 52-year-old Chris Nilan of the alumni was hooked from behind on a breakaway.
“They wanted to beat us so bad,” Richer added. “That wasn’t fun.”
Whatever chagrin the Habs displayed during Monday’s game must have been noted, however. In the third period, the score clock at the Harbour Grace rink was turned off.
The former Habs liked the pace of the entirety of Wednesday’s game much better.
“They (the Blades) understand it’s a show and they respect that. People want to see us score goals and make a few plays,” Richer said, adding that he thought the Blades could have easily beaten the alumni by 10 goals or more if they wanted.
In the end, it was the Canadiens who came out on top 12-9.
“We were 12 guys to their 24 ... rather short-benched, but they were flying and gave it to us pretty good.” - Claude Lemieux
Lemieux keyed the Habs’ offense with three goals and three helpers, with Gilbert Dionne and Jocelyn Lemieux also scoring hat tricks. Former Canadiens first-round draft pick Terry Ryan — who played eight NHL games with Montreal in the 1990s — was joined by Blades Steve Pearson and Trevor Thorne on the Habs roster for the contest. Ryan scored twice, while former NHL tough guy Chris Nilan netted a single tally for the oldtimers.
Grant Kenny and Mark Chaplin led the Blades with two goals and an assist each, while single markers came from Cory Blackmore, Colin Power and Kenny Pennell.
The other two Mount Pearl goals were scored by Faith Ann Warford and Mitchell McDonald of the Mount Pearl Atom Blades, who replaced the senior squad with five minutes to play in the second period.
Jason Hedges, playing his first game in a Blades jersey, didn’t get on the board but recorded a pair of assists. A lifelong Habs fan who says he cried the day Richer was traded to the New Jersey Devils in 1991, Hedges was surprised by the aging Habs’ ability.
“Give them respect, they’re 40 and 50 years old, I hope one say when I’m that age I can still skate at that level, he said.
Alumni goalie Richard Sevigny stopped 19 of the 28 shots faced.
The Blades, meanwhile, used three netminders Wednesday, starting with Roger Kennedy, who stopped 15 of 16 shots.
“I think they were just getting over their hangovers in the first period,” Kennedy joked.
Mark Abbott started the second period and gave up six goals on 12 shots before atom keeper Noah Lawley came in to finish up the second. In the third, the Blades turned to Devin O’Brien, who made 11 saves on 16 shots.