The heart of the community

Tyne Valley living proof that the smallest towns are the strongest in times of tragedy

Halifax rinks, especially the Scotiabank Arena, have seen tons of goals that are Canada Post stamp-worthy. Who could forget Jonathan Drouin’s “the Shift” in 2013? And Nathan MacKinnon liked to put on a show when he played for the Halifax Mooseheads. 

Memorable goals aren’t much different in a place like the Community Sports Centre in Tyne Valley, P.E.I. Crowning moments there never appeared on SportsCentre the following day, but ask anyone in the small village and they will be able to recall them. 

Instead of the Memorial Cup or U Sports tournaments, the largest games at the Tyne Valley Rink were the atom triple-A provincial championships. 

The Valley hosted the 2012 edition of the atom provincials. The final game ended 1-0 for the host team, the Western Warriors, over the powerhouse Summerside Capitals. And they did it in front of the largest crowd, it seemed, there will ever be for an atom game. 

The Warriors’ Tyler Smith broke the tie with about eight minutes left in the third period. Smith miraculously picked up an errant pass and, while being held by now-Saint John Sea Dogs defenseman Charlie Desroches, shoveled the puck into the back of the net to the tune of the crowd’s roar. Boy, was 10-year-old me glad to find a spot to watch that game by the glass. 

Smith played most of his remaining minor hockey in Tyne Valley after that. Most recently, he starred in Tyne Valley’s rec hockey league. 

That is, until the rink burned down on Dec. 29, 2019. 

Creating a community 

“The Valley Rink” never received style points. Neighbours in nearby towns O’Leary and Tignish called out the mediocre-at-best ice, dressing rooms and structure — all surpassed by their newer rinks. 

They weren’t wrong. The arena was built in 1964 by players who were sick of playing outside in snowstorms. But who cared? It was a roof over their heads. Players young and old found a love for both hockey and their community there. That stands both the test of time and a devastating fire. 

It amazes me what hockey in Tyne Valley does for the village. Participation, whether as a player, coach, parent or referee, expanded the love of the community for decades. Even the Oyster Festival was held at the rink annually; all could celebrate their love of the Valley at the place where they first truly discovered it. 

And that love didn’t disappear in the fire. As rink manager and my good friend Adam MacLennan says about Tyne Valley’s people, “they are driven, motivated go-getters.” Tyne Valley began their Kraft Hockeyville campaign essentially as soon as the fire department put out the last hot spot on that Sunday morning. 

Rally for the Valley 

Kraft Hockeyville is an annual competition in which communities compete to demonstrate their commitment to ice hockey. Winners receive money for arena upgrades. 

About three weeks later, Tyne Valley has among the highest number of nominations received across Canada, thanks to exhaustive planning and campaigning from volunteers on short notice. 

Other communities have rallied around the Valley. Sackville, N.S. was also in the running for Hockeyville until Sackville hockey parent Jamie Munroe heard of the blaze. Within a week, Munroe created a town-wide (now province-wide) campaign for Tyne Valley, and hosted a rally on Jan. 18 in Sackville.  

The Valley certainly didn’t expect support at this level, it means the world to everyone there. For many, especially the younger crowd, the Community Sports Centre is their world. Maybe it will be years before we see another golden goal scored there, but the creation of a community hub, like the one before, is the greatest victory anyone in the Valley, my hometown, wishes for. 

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Luke Dyment

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