Amid the tragic destruction of parts of Fort McMurray in Alberta since the raging forest fires engulfed the area, Scottie Upshall‘s hometown rink still stands.
Upshall, who spoke to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector about playing for his St. Louis Blues the same day the fires broke out, penned an article in The Players’ Tribune Wednesday to expand on his feelings on the town, the rink and the people that made it a strong community.
For Fort McMurray | The Players' Tribune https://t.co/NzrOkKjhNO 2001 Scottie ,a walk on in Kamloops won CHL rookie of year. Hold the Fort.
— Ron MacLean (@RonMacLeanHTH) May 18, 2016
The Blues winger’s story about trying to prepare for a playoff game while on the phone with his family is stirring, but what we hadn’t heard previously were the stories about Beacon Hill Arena which Upshall believed to be burned down at the time that he spoke to Sportsnet.
The building survived, and the people and teams within the rink were what Upshall highlighted in the piece.
“The heart of Fort McMurray is the hardworking people who have been there since the beginning,” Upshall wrote. “When you read the words ‘Fort McMurray’, I don’t want you to think of oil, I want you to think of real people, like Ms. Jomass. She was the woman who worked the concession stand at Beacon Hill Arena when I was growing up.
“Ms. Jomass made the most legendary fries and gravy in Alberta. In fact, I’ve played in lot of hockey rinks all over Canada, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Ms. Jomass’s fries and gravy were the best in the country.”
Upshall’s minor hockey team once got a blue-collar town to help them attend a youth tournament in Quebec.
“Once the word got out that we were raising money to go to the Quebec tournament, people in town started packing up boxes [of beer bottles] for us in advance,” wrote Upshall. “We didn’t even have to do our little sales pitch at their doorstep. They invited us right into their garage, we’d toss the bottles into the back of our parents’ big pickup trucks and we were off to the next house.
“We ended up winning seven tournament games in a row and took home the championship. More than 120 Peewee teams had come to Quebec, and we were the ones left standing.”
So too is the rink.