I was glad that most sports in the Valley were still in pause mode as we journey through what, we hope, is the final stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when my colleague Kevin Rothbauer took a rare week off recently.
I have never covered much sports in my many years in the newspaper business and have usually relied on other, more knowledgeable people like Kevin to report on the sports taking place in the communities in which I have worked.
But that wasn’t always the case and, in my first reporting job, I was tasked to cover all the news in the area where I was stationed, including sports, because I was the only reporter at the satellite office.
About 50 kilometres away from where my office was located was a small fishing community called La Scie (rhymes with sea).
The town had a hockey team, called the La Scie Jets, that was a member of the Central Newfoundland Hockey League and consisted mostly of local fishermen and teachers from the town’s high school.
They were a good team, but rarely made it beyond the regular season because they were up against teams that usually had better players, as those teams were from much larger communities and had more resources to draw on.
But the 1993-94 season was different, and the boys from La Scie went on a winning streak that saw them win the title in their league and then went on to win the Herder Cup, which is Newfoundland’s Stanley Cup in senior men’s hockey.
In a regular season, I would cover just five or six games before the Jets were finally defeated (much to my delight as I hated covering things that I know so little about) and failed to make the playoffs.
But that year as the team refused to lose, I was tasked with travelling all over the province to cover the games.
There were different rules for conduct for those attending the games in each community, but La Scie had its own ways to support the team while on home ice that must have astounded the players and fans from the bigger communities.
The fans would arrive about an hour before the game was scheduled to begin with most carrying either a two-four of beer or a dozen case that they would sit on during the game while pulling the beer out to drink until the box was empty.
These were the days before beer tins, so everybody had glass bottles.
Over the years, the fans had developed rituals and chants they would engage in during the game to spur the team on and entertain themselves.
When the Jets got a goal, or for just about any other reason, the fans would yell “La Scie, La Scie, dat’s we dat’s we” before throwing and smashing beer bottles on the ice.
At times, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of beer bottles crashing down in the arena and the games would have to be stopped while workers with brooms cleared the broken glass away.
It seems crazy and dangerous now, but that was almost 30 years ago in a place that pretty much operated under its own rules, and the RCMP members who attended the games barely batted an eye at such behaviour.
Those games would go on until the wee hours of the morning due to all the time it took to clear the broken beer bottles from the ice after each episode.
But it was all in good fun and the La Scie fans would have been seriously put out if they were told that they had to stop doing that.
I don’t know if the La Scie fans still honour their hockey teams with such antics, or even if the community still has a hockey team, but I bet the conduct of fans in arenas in Newfoundland has likely become more uniform these days and someone throwing a beer bottle on the ice would probably face charges.
But, I have to admit, those were interesting times and I still smile when I remember them.