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Comedian hits mark with goaltending coach bit

Canucks fan Ewanuick has 'Stack The Pads with Kirk LeMur' videos on YouTube

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / Columnist

Veteran Canadian comic actor Fred Ewanuick might finally have found his calling in life, portraying Kirk LeMur, a fictional goaltending coach sharing his wisdom on YouTube.

LeMur -- "The Wall," in French -- has three short "instructional" videos under the banner "Stack The Pads with Kirk LeMur."

"When Blocker Meets Stick," "Snatchin', Catchin' n Trappin' " and "Any Means Necessary" each digs deep into LeMur's science of goaltending, which he admits isn't terribly profound.

Riffing off the preponderance of online goalie-skill tutorial videos online, Ewanuick conceived and recorded Kirk LeMur with his friend Matty Brascia. The videos, each less than two minutes, are Ewanuick's lighthearted contribution to the position he's played and loved almost his entire life.

Video: Stack the Pads: When Blocker Meets Stick

"I follow a lot of goalie coaches online, and they're always posting drills," Ewanuick said during a chat from his home in Vancouver. "The fun thing with Kirk LeMur is that someone actually thought this fake YouTube personality was a real goalie coach. Kirk's videos are just ridiculous enough that somebody in the know says, 'That's a gag,' where others might say, 'Hey, look at this guy…'

"We're still juggling ideas to see how ridiculous to take it and how much reality we want to keep in the character. We're just making them for ourselves, and if people like them, that's even better."

The 48-year-old has a 20-year body of work as a comic actor who's played a wide variety of roles on TV and in movies.

He's best known for his six seasons as Hank Yarbo on the hugely popular, award-winning Canadian comedy show "Corner Gas," which ran from 2004-09 and remains a fixture on The Comedy Network and Amazon Prime Video.

With others in the cast, Ewanuick reprised his role in the "Corner Gas Animated" series in 2018-19, following his own two-season CTV comedy "Dan For Mayor" and his work in the series "Robson Arms."

Goaltending has never been far from the heart of the native of Port Moody, British Columbia, a goalie since his peewee days in Port Moody. He grew up and remains a loyal Vancouver Canucks fan, goalie Richard Brodeur his first hockey hero. Ewanuick jokes that he "knew right away a career in the NHL wasn't going to happen," so he found his way into a successful acting career.

It was a curious route, having been fired from his first job as a paperboy for tossing his deliveries into a Dumpster behind a convenience store, then heading to the neighborhood arcade to spend his profits.

College also wasn't a direct road on Ewanuick's journey.

"It was suggested to me that I leave a voice and movement theatre class for goofing around too much," he said. "I had to leave that class, but I could stay on through the rest of the program. I mean, how do you tell your parents that you got kicked out of theater school?"

But clearly, Ewanuick did something right, his talent and energy helping him land the "Corner Gas" role of Yarbo, the quirky best friend of Brent Leroy, played by series creator Brent Butt, in the fictitious Saskatchewan town of Dog River.

Hockey figured in at least three "Corner Gas" episodes during its run:

• In Season 1's "Face Off," Yarbo scored the dramatic tying goal for the Dog River River Dogs, huge underdogs against a rival team, with Leroy, in net, making the last-gasp save to preserve the tie.

"I asked if I could go to a secondhand sports store and get my own gear," Ewanuick said. "I hate watching hockey movies where you can tell the props guy doesn't know the game -- you see a goalie with pads on the wrong legs or someone with a helmet that a player would never wear.

"I said, 'I want to look like Dougie Gilmour,'" he said of the Hockey Hall of Fame forward. "I tucked my jersey in, got a CCM helmet, and for some reason, Hank Yarbo plays like Doug Gilmour. I didn't want to offend the guy, I just wanted to look like him."

He chuckles at the decades-old appearance of himself as a young Port Moody goalie wearing a baseball cap in a photo he's happy to share.

• In Season 2's "Wedding Card," Yarbo disputes with Leroy the ownership of a 1970-71 Darryl Sittler rookie card, an argument that drives a wedge into their friendship. The pals ultimately bury the hatchet, Sittler, the Toronto Maple Leafs icon, making two short, hilarious cameo appearances.

• Season 5's "Bed and Brake Fast" opens with 2007 Anaheim Ducks Stanley Cup-winning forward Travis Moen, a native of Stewart Valley, Saskatchewan, finishing a coffee in The Ruby, Dog River's diner, with the Stanley Cup sitting on the counter.

As Moen gets up to leave, Ruby owner Lacey Burrows, played by Gabrielle Miller, tells Moen that he's forgotten his Cup.

"Actually, I'm wearing it," he replies. "You can never be too careful."

Embarrassed, Burrows says, "No, not that cup. The other Cup."

On cue, a youngster comes in and is told by Moen that no, he can't sit in the Stanley Cup, the boy then hurting his foot when he kicks the player -- in the cup he's wisely wearing.

"See? You can never be too careful," Moen deadpans to Burrows as the boy limps away.

"It was huge, having the Stanley Cup on the set," Ewanuick said. "It's the first time I'd ever seen it in person."

He longs to see his Canucks win the Cup, a hunger felt more keenly after the St. Louis Blues won the trophy for the first time in June, defeating the Boston Bruins in seven games.

"I'm not ashamed to say I cried when we lost Game 7 to the Bruins in 2011," he said, having seen Boston win the Cup on Vancouver ice with a 4-0 victory as he watched alone in his basement.

Ewanuick, who plays goalie in some beer leagues, has had his own brush with the Canucks, playing in various alumni games, including one that had former Canucks goalie Corey Hirsch in the other net.

"New technique helped, even if those guys still made a meal out of me," he said. "Every now and then I'd make a glove save or get in the way of the puck.

"I have an idea for a movie that I keep fantasizing about: the oldest NHL goalie who wins the Stanley Cup in his rookie season. I'm still holding out hope that scouts might come out to my rink and say, 'Hey, look at this kid!'"

And if Ewanuick isn't signed to be that trailblazing rookie, he's cautiously optimistic that this Kirk LeMur coaching gig might yet pan out.

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