The fans came by the thousands and they weren't disappointed. Their Vancouver Canuck heroes performed magnificently, showing off their depth, their strength, their slick on-ice skills, all honed to perfection over a lifetime as professional athletes, skating to a 3-3 tie before a packed Rogers Arena audience that had braved the snow and blustery cold to fill the rink to capacity at noon last Sunday.
Oh, and most of those fans also stuck around at 1:00 to watch the pros show off their skills, too.
The event was, of course, the annual Vancouver Canucks SuperSkills, when the team's goodwill ambassadors - the Canuck Alumni - get a chance to perform as the 'opening act' before a full house of appreciative and mainly-young hockey fans ... many of them too young to have seen most of the Alumni when they were playing the game professionally.
This year, the ranks for the 25-minute scrimmage were bolstered with the additions of John Garrett in goal (wearing his gaudy 80's-era "V-style" Canuck mask), fellow broadcasters Dave Tomilinson and Garry Valk and Vancouver Island 'import' Doug Bodger. The game also featured a couple of father-and-son combinations, with Blue team blueliner Bo Murray facing his son Rob, referee Chris Oddleifson keeping an eye on the legalities of son, Jeff's on-ice performance, while B.C. Hockey League Commissioner John Grisdale patrolled behind one of the benches as his number-one son, Chad patrolled the back line for Blue.
Original Canucks captain Orland Kurtenbach was appointed to the Assistant Coaching role, a spot normally occupied by the Hawaiian-vacationing Ernie Dougherty, with Canuck 40th Anniversary honourees Stan Smyl and Jack McIlhargey serving as Honorary Coaches for the Alumni event.
As the league-leading pro team gears up for the stretch drive to the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Alumni crew will be getting prepared for their final, scheduled road trip of the current season: a March 12th appearance before their fans in the Nicola Valley at the Merritt Arena.
Contributed by John Ashbridge