A gesture from Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Tristan Jarry to a young boy helped create new fans from the most unlikely place on Earth; Portland.
The night was May 9th. The Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks had just competed fiercely for 60 minutes in the 5th game of their epic WHL Final. The game was at the Moda Center in front of nearly 11,000 ridiculously passionate fans who did all they could that night to urge their team to victory. But it was the visiting team from Edmonton that prevailed, a 3-2 win giving the eventual WHL champions their first lead in the series.
Jarry was unreal in the game. The Penguins 2nd rounder stopped 37 of 39 shots, many of which appeared to be sure goals. The Oil Kings netminder was name a game star for his effort which set the stage for the big moment many never saw.
The rest of the story after the jump.
In Portland, as in a few other WHL cities, the 3-star selection involves some level of fan participation. In this case, each player comes back to the ice when his name is announced, skates to one end and poses for a photograph with a young fan. I don't know if it's the case every time but during the WHL final, it was always a child in the range of 3-8 years old.
The third star that night was Mathew Dumba who had scored with just under two minutes remaining in the game. Obviously downtrodden after the loss, there was the obligatory pose and off the player skated. It was the same with Paul Bittner who was chosen as the first star; skate on ice, pose, leave. And no one should hold that against them - I can't think of a player happy after a loss.
But it was a different story with the second star of the game; Tristan Jarry.
Edmonton's goalie came back onto the ice and didn't immediately know what was expected of him; there is no such tradition in Edmonton for the game stars. He was directed to skate to the carpet at the far end of the rink where a young boy was standing.
|Photo: Scott Wilson|
|Photo: Scott Wilson|
Jarry gave the boy his stick. The young lad, not sure what to do and barely able to hold the heavy stick, eventually dragged it off the carpet where his father was waiting for him.
I tweeted about the scene as it unfolded:
Nice moment; @tjarry35 named a game star, gives his stick to a young fan.
— Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) May 10, 2014
The WHL on Shaw broadcast crew was on the ice waiting to interview Jarry. The goalie answered a few questions from Stu Walters, turned back to find the boy, spotted him and then skated over to him. Once he got there he bent on one knee to sign the stick.
|Photo: Scott Wilson|
By the time Corey Graham and I were done with our post game show, the press conferences with both teams were long over and most of the media had cleared out. Corey and I were chatting with Paul Owen, the Oil Kings Communications Manager, when I spotted the boy and his family, his grin still extending from ear to ear.
In the time between meeting Jarry on the ice and my seeing them after the game, the entire team had taken the time to sign the stick for the family.
The story gets better.
The next day I received this reply to the tweet from above:
@TPS_Guy @tjarry35 That was my little guy, Bauer. What a great exp! #classy #takenoteshawks
— Jenna Wilson (@ladyhawk00) May 10, 2014
Bauer's mom, Jenna, took a minute to publicly thank the Oil Kings organization for going the extra distance. And, if you take a second to look at her Twitter account, you'll figure out that not only is Jenna mother to Bauer but she's also Tom-a-hawk, the mascot of the Winterhawks!
Sometime after Game 5 and before Game 7, the Oil Kings received an email from Scott Wilson, Bauer's father. With his permission, this is a transcript of what he wrote:
My family and I attended game 5 at the Moda center on Friday 5/9. Our 3 year old son (Bauer) was selected for the third star after the game.
I want to complement the CLASS of your team.
Tristan Jarry gave my son his goalie stick after the picture. Tristan came out with a smile and after the picture and his TV interview, Tristan came back over and signed his goalie stick for my son. He showed a lot of class and respect.
After the three stars we walked down to the Oil Kings locker room and asked your team personal if we could have the whole team sign Tristan's goalie stick that he gave my son. Your team and personal were very professional with this request. Oil Kings team members come out a couple at a time with a smile and signed the stick. After all the players signed the stick a team personal came out and informed us that was all the players.
We thanked him for taking his time and each player for going out of their way to sign my son's goalie stick that Tristan Jarry gave him. It showed us that the Oil Kings have a lot of class and respect, especially for a family that are Winterhawk fans. All your team personal and players were very friendly and took the time to talk with us a bit while they signed. We greatly appreciate what Tristan and your team did for my son. Oil Kings have a lot of class.
Can you please pass this message on to your team and staff and let them know we are thankful for what they did? We greatly appreciate them taking time to fulfill our request.
The Winterhawks won game 6 in Edmonton forcing a 7th and deciding game back in Portland the very next day. We got to the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, as usual, a couple of hours before the game and one of the first people I ran into was Jenna. We spoke briefly, I met Scott and they recounted their experience from Game 5. They also told me that Bauer was Jarry's new number one fan.Best of luck to the Oil Kings team on Sunday in game 6.
That's when I asked Scott if he'd mind if I posted a copy of his email to the team and both he and Jenna agreed.
"That's why we did it, we were hoping it would become public," she told me.
I'd meant to write this blog upon our return from Portland but with Edmonton winning Game 7 and the Ed Chynoweth Cup at the same time, a flight to London Ontario for the Memorial Cup became the priority.
Now back from that tournament and wanting to write about that experience, I didn't want to put this story off any longer. I contacted Scott one more time to see if he'd happened to snap any photos of that day and, as you can tell from above, he did.
In Scott's reply email he also mentioned this:
"Congrats to the Oil Kings and staff on there Memorial Cup win!!! What a game and series the Kings had. We were cheering the Oil Kings on from Portland and followed them through there Memorial Cup Series. All I can say is the Oil Kings wanted that cup and were the better team! They played great hockey!
Each Memorial Cup game we watched our son Bauer yelled out "There's Jarry, I have his stick!!" He's a happy boy thanks to Tristan Jarry.I'm going to make a shadow box with Jarry's goalie stick and some Oil Kings memorabilia to hang on the wall for our son to remember that day. That just doesn't happen on a daily basis. Just shows you the class, professionalism and respect the Oil Kings have especially when it was an opposing fan and town. Better yet what the team did after the game buy coming out and signing the stick for us.
Thanks again,The Wilson family,Scott, Jenna, Bauer
|Photo: Scott Wilson|
At the Memorial Cup in London, Mitch Moroz won over some local fans with his ritual of tossing pucks over the glass at the end of warm up:
Thanks for the warmup pucks tonight @MitchMoroz! We know who we're cheering for! Willie and Ewan pic.twitter.com/nWiDQCCntP
— Rob Parsons (@robparsons239) May 23, 2014
Getting to and from our hotel to Bud Gardens saw us taking tournament provided shuttles driven by volunteers. The players also took the shuttles into town on off days for shopping excursions. Several times we were told by our shuttle drivers that the players were conducting themselves in a very respectable and professional manner.
Many times we hear about players acting selfishly or rudely. Some seem to have a sense of entitlement about them. It's great to see first hand that there are those who still understand the importance of respect and how to act with class.
I appreciate the Wilson family's effort to publicize that Tristan Jarry and the Oil Kings fall into the latter category.