Seven long years ago, the New Westminster Fire and Rescue Service Charitable Society got the bright idea to donate a trophy and stage a biennial, one-game, winner-take-all showdown with the Vancouver Canuck Alumni, with the cherished “Hydrant Cup” as the prize.
Not once have the Royal City hosts been able to get their hands on their own hardware.
It was no different last Friday night (December 5th), when the Canucks’ “senior squad” rolled into town and rode off with a 7-2 victory, giving them continued ownership of the treasured trophy for at least another two years.
Led by a goal and two assists from speedy forward Denis Pederson, the visitors were up 3-0 by the end of the first period … 6-2 after 40 minutes. The towering presence known as Wayne van Dorp netted a pair on his own and set up a third for the Alumni en route to the rout, but it was a rookie member of the veteran-studded Alumni lineup who created a small amount of controversy while putting the icing on the proverbial cake for the winners.
Kyle Wellwood, skating in his very first game with the Alumni and sporting a familiar “42” on his jersey, assisted on second period goals by Gregg “Hawkeye” Neeld and Cliff “The Rat” Ronning, the latter linemate playing on the same ice where he re-wrote the WHL scoring records during his time with the New Westminster Bruins back in the mid-80’s. “Welly” was credited with scoring the final goal of the game on a slick setup from defensive veterans Dave Babych and Jyrki Lumme … but ‘junior’ official Chris Oddleifson overruled senior ref Stan Vyse, noting the puck hadn’t actually crossed the New West goal line.
On the very next rush, Wellwood made sure he was going to get his inaugural Alumni goal on this visit to Queen’s Park, lighting the lamp 35 seconds later on a breakaway engineered by Lumme and now-forward Kirk McLean. Game, set, match.
The big winners on the night – as always – the deserving charities: The New West Firefighters Charitable Society and the Canuck Alumni Foundation.
Next up, with the “Hydrant Cup” now safely locked away in the Alumni trophy case for another 24 months, is the annual Alumni scrimmage to kick off the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks Super Skills competition at Rogers Arena on Sunday, December 14th.