Former CeeBees captain returns to Harbour Grace
The S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace looks much like it did the last time Matthew Thomey played a senior hockey league game in the venerable arena.
© Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass
Former Eastlink CeeBee Stars captain Matthew Thomey (centre) made his first trip to Harbour Grace as a member of the Western Royals on Jan. 18. He is flanked by Ray Dalton (left) and Fred Earle.
The colour of the bleachers are the same, the stick sports figures left over from the 1992 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games are still on the wall and the retired jerseys of Alex and George Faulkner still hang from the rafter.
Save for the 2012-13 Herder Memorial Trophy banner hanging at centre ice, it's identical.
However, there is one thing that has changed. Thomey, a former CeeBee Stars’ captain, is using his exceptional hockey talents to help the Western Royals.
On Jan. 18, Thomey and the Royals played their first game in Harbour Grace this season.
The headline reads: "CeeBees hold on to beat Western Royals." But for most CeeBee fans, it was just as well it read: "The return of Matthew Thomey."
After moving to Port aux Basques for a teaching position in Burnt Islands, Thomey was moved to the Western Royals for a package of players and a draft pick prior to the start of the season.
It was not his No. 1 option — that was to play for the CeeBees — but logistically it was perhaps his best one. Before this season, Thomey had spent his last four senior hockey league terms with Harbour Grace.
Prior to game time on Jan. 18, he admitted there was “a little nervous energy” as he prepared to hit the ice.
“I hadn’t really had a chance to think about (the game) until yesterday and the bus ride here,” said Thomey.
He arrived at the rink just before 6 p.m., an hour-and-a-half before scheduled puck drop.
“Leading up to the game is probably the most different,” said Thomey. “You know, getting ready down here, warming up in this end of the rink, which is something I’ve never done before.”
He even had to stop himself from turning right when entering the arena.
“I almost went down the tunnel there,” said Thomey
Sign of respect
When it came time for the puck to drop, he was in the starting lineup for the Royals. When his name came over the loud speaker, the applause for Thomey overmatched that of even the most popular current CeeBee.
Nodding his head in appreciation, Thomey lifted his stick in a sign of respect for the fans.
“It was different being on this end and looking down and seeing the jerseys,” he said.
When the game got going, Thomey played his usual brand of hard-nosed hockey up the middle for the Royals, although he did not record a point over the weekend. Game 2 was halted after the first period due to mechanical problems with the ice resurfacer.
“It was nice,” said Thomey.
For the Royals, it was their only trip to Harbour Grace this season. However, Thomey did not rule out returning in March.
"Maybe, we'll be here for the Herder," he said.