Fire Chief inflames hockey rivalry

By Geoff Lee

February 7, 2018 1:12 PM

Leo Paré, centre, the director of communication with the City of Lloydminster, dressed as a referee to help Lloydminster RCMP Detachment Insp. Neill Pearson, left, accept a gag “Frozen” mini stick presented by Lloydminster Fire Department Chief Jordan Newton at the Battle of the Badges media launch on Monday at the Centennial Civic Centre. The stick serves as a hex to get the cops to drop their competitive mentality so the fire guys can win for a change. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

The Lloydminster Fire Department hockey team hopes to kill the hockey hopes of their RCMP detachment hockey rivals with coffee and calories.
Heading into the upcoming third-annual Todd Gustavson Memorial Battle of the Badges, fire Chief Jordan Newton said his guys have been practising diligently to overtake the RCMP this year.
“It’s probably going to take a 12 pack of donuts, a few coffee gift cards, and I think we’ll emerge victorious,” he said.
The charity game will go ahead March 3 at the Centennial Civic Centre.
Newton is hopeful a fatter, hyper police squad will help his fire guys win for the first time since the game was renamed in memory of former long-serving fire Chief Todd Gustavson, who died suddenly in April 2015.
Lloydminster RCMP Detachment Insp. Neill Pearson confessed his side doesn’t have a strategy.
“We just kind of come out and play the game how it feels,” he said.
“It’s how we roll in the mounted police; we just take it minute by minute, but my detachment is very keyed up for this game.”
He and Newton laid out their plans during a media launch and ceremonial puck drop on Monday at the Civic Centre, with the game trophy on the red carpet.
Pearson held up a mini hockey stick memento from the kids’ movie Frozen, explaining it was a gift from the fire guys to “Let it Go,” a reference to the movie theme song and the hockey rivalry.
“But we won’t let it go; we like the rivalry, but I appreciate the stick; it’s very nice,” said Pearson, who noted the excitement is building.
“We’re thinking about it, we’re getting our lines together. The guys are skating a bit more.”
Last year, about 600 people attended the game, with all proceeds going to the teams’ charity of choice.
This year, the fire department’s charity of choice is KidSport and the RCMP’s charity is the Lloydminster Breakfast Program at schools.
“So for this event, we try to keep all of our donations to local non-profits as a way to benefit our community,” explained Newton.
He said the game is a tradition and it’s a lot of fun for everyone.
“It’s great for the community to see all their public safety working together in a little bit more of a fun capacity than what the public usually sees the fire and police at.”
Pearson agrees that it’s important that people see the police and firefighters for who they are.
“We contribute to community safety, but we want to contribute to the community in a positive way through our service and through games like this,” he said.
“We’re not 24 hours a day policemen; we have to have some time to relax.”
Pearson also tipped his hat to three major event sponsors, Musgrave Agencies, Redhead Equipment, and Synergy Credit Union that make the event possible.
“I’ve said all along in my time here we have a very support community for the police, as well as the fire department here—it’s quite evident every day,” he said.
The event launch capped off with a skills competition with participating players and local media personalities invited to play a little shinny.
“Being public safety, we do work a lot with our local media, so it’s great to get our media involved and have some fun here today and try to give some lessons to our friends at the RCMP,” said Newton.
“Traditionally, the RCMP have played a little dirty during the game with some hooking and tripping—I hope that our media friends can help them out.”
Given the opportunity to fire back, Pearson took the high road.
“I think that’s a little harsh,” he said with a straight face.
“We play within the rules.”
Leo Paré, the city’s director of communication, refereed the event but didn’t have to send anyone to the sin bin.

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