June 12th, 2024

Tigers share ice with CFB Suffield community

By JAMES TUBB on February 17, 2023.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers forward Oasiz Wiesblatt handles the puck around kids at the Ralston arena Wednesday night during a community event involving families from the area and those at CFB Suffield.


The Medicine Hat Tigers finally returned to Ralston on Wednesday.

The team made its first trip to the village and CFB Suffield since COVID-19 limited involvement in the community. Wednesday night players skated with members of the Ralston community and kids living on the base.

Jenny Renke, community recreation co-ordinator at CFB Suffield, said it was a surprise to the community and she was happy to see the Tigers make their return.

“It’s really exciting for these kids,” Renke said. “We have a lot of people that are obviously with BATUS who are British and they get to first come to Canada and try out hockey and then get to meet these Tigers players. It just means the world to them.”

The rink was divided down the middle with one side dedicated to a pickup hockey game and the other geared toward a more calm skate-around, where kids could get autographs and pose for photos with their favourite players.

Tigers forward Hunter St. Martin says it was just as special for the players as it was for the kids on the ice.

“I’ve never done something like that in a small community like that,” St. Martin said. “To have people not from here take part, it’s always enjoyable to make those people feel good.”

Renke says a night like that means so much to the kids as they can put faces to the names they see on the big stage at Co-op Place.

“It means so much to young players to get to meet somebody that they got to go watch on Saturday night, and not only meet them but be on the ice and skate and talk with them is super cool.”

After a group photo, the Tigers and captain Owen MacNeil were presented with a stick presigned by all the kids. MacNeil hopes the kids enjoyed the night as much as they did.

“It’s something we really look forward to as well and for them to present us with that stick, that was something really special that they did,” MacNeil said. “For them to allow us to come and use their facilities, hang out with them and get to know some of the families and the kids is something really cool.”

Tigers broadcaster and communications manager Gino De Paoli says it was yet another trip he’s enjoyed taking into the community and is looking forward to doing more next year and continuing the return to Ralston.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re in Medicine Hat, if we go out to Irvine or here in Ralston, it’s really cool,” De Paoli said. “Getting the guys out on a different bus, roll into Ralston to see what it’s like for those who fight for our freedoms every day and who all do a really good job doing it. It’s great to be here, we enjoy the company and thank you, Ralston.”

De Paoli says the presentation of the signed hockey stick meant a lot to him and illustrated how much they have to continue to be in the community.

“I know the players are very busy, they’re very regimented, kind of like the military, where you’re in a routine every day,” De Paoli said. “But it’s really important for all these individuals to remember situations like this where these are their local hockey heroes.

“These kids will remember this until the day they die. I hope these guys realize how special they are to a group of people in a community, and community is so important to everybody involved, whether it’s myself or the team. We want to make sure we keep giving back the way we have and continue to grow.”

Editors note: An earlier version of the story referred to Jenny Renke as Lisa Renke. 

Share this story:

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments