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Gushue rink house-sitting for IceCaps while AHL team is away

With the St. John’s IceCaps on the road while the Tim Hortons Brier takes over Mile One Centre, Shannon “Shaq” Coady has been kept busy tending to the needs — however few there are — of Team Newfoundland and Labrador, who have taken up residence in the IceCaps’ dressing room for the nine-day national men’s curling championships.
With the St. John’s IceCaps on the road while the Tim Hortons Brier takes over Mile One Centre, Shannon “Shaq” Coady has been kept busy tending to the needs — however few there are — of Team Newfoundland and Labrador, who have taken up residence in the IceCaps’ dressing room for the nine-day national men’s curling championships.

Brad Gushue’s team doesn’t have a spare listed on its roster for the Tim Hortons Brier at Mile One this week, but perhaps Shannon “Shaq” Coady could be seen as the rink’s unofficial fifth.

That’s because the new boys of winter have taken over the digs — Gushue and Newfoundland and Labrador rinkmates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker are ensconced in the hockey club’s dressing room.

“Mark and I know each other pretty well and a few weeks back, he inquired about the possibility of them using (the dressing room),” said IceCaps chief operating officer, Glenn Stanford. “I told him we would be fine with it as long as they got the proper clearances (from Curling Canada). 

“Once that happened, we told them they were welcome to whatever we had and that we were more than happy to do something for another home team.”

Gushue said he and his teammates are happy house sitters.

“Yes, we have a good locker room this week,” said the skip, “and believe me, we’re very thankful for it.

“Shannon’s been taking very good care of us.”

There’s a comfort factor, of course, but the Gushue team has also been able to avail of other amenities in the facility, including the trainer’s table.

“One way it helps is with my injury,” said Gushue, who has been dealing with hip and groin issues throughout this curling season. 

“I’ve been able to be taken care of in there.”

Walker was a very good hockey player growing up in Alberta before finally choosing to concentrate curling at the age of 15, so he has a good appreciation of his in-house, off-ice surroundings this week.

“It’s pretty nice in there,” he said. “It’s pretty close to being in an NHL locker room. There’s a weight room … we’ve taken advantage of it, for sure, to do a little bit of warmup. 

“We also have the hot tub and cold tub for afterwards for a little bit of recovery. And a kitchen to get a little snack if we need it. It helps.”

There have been no impromptu hockey games and the team has been careful to adhere to the hockey doctrine of not stepping on the logo in the middle of the dressing room floor, so much so that Gallant eventually requested to have it covered up  — there is a lid designed for just that purpose.

Coady, who doesn’t travel with the IceCaps on the road, says the Gushue team has been easy to work with.

“It’s different, for sure. For one thing, I don’t have nearly as many (to look after),” said Coady, adding the curlers, “are very low maintenance.

“It’s been a real pleasure. It’s special that this (the Brier) is happening here for the first time since what … 1972? And it’s great to have just a little part in it.”

Coady hasn’t been able to take all of Newfoundland’s games, but is able to follow the Brier action on TVs inside the dressing room. In any case. he can easily determine when his “new guys” are successful on the Mile One ice,.

“Oh my goodness, yes. You have no trouble hearing the crowd in here when they score or do something good,” he said. 

“I hope I hear that a lot.”

Shaq’s fearsome foursome

Shannon Coady has participated in some curling/team-bonding events with American Hockey League clubs in St. John’s over the years, but says he hasn’t curled much.

Nevertheless, he agreed to select what he thought would be an effective curling team made up of AHL players he has dealt with since 1991.

“Kevin McClelland as skip,” he began immediately. “Shawn Thornton as lead.”

The third? 

“Bird Dog (Greg Smyth).”

And second?

After some thought, Coady offered the name of Frank “The Animal” Bialowas

That’s a pretty tough lineup. How tough? Collectively, in a total of 628 games with the AHL leads, that foursome had a total of 3,077 penalty minutes.

When it was suggested his chosen team might be adept at throwing “takeout” weight, but would lack a little in the finesse game, Coady said he would address that issue by selecting former St. John’s Maple Leafs bench boss Al MacAdam, that Albert Einstein lookalike, as the team’s coach and strategy-maker.

bmcc@thetelegram.com

Twitter: telybrendan

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