By: Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Nine-year-old Jase Beach, one of the first in attendance, eagerly got his hockey stick signed by two former National Hockey League players at Lou Jeffries Gananoque and TLTI Recreation Centre on Thursday afternoon.
Chances are, Beach doesn’t know much about the NHL alumni that signed his hockey stick – Alyn McCauley and Todd Gill, two players from a different era from the one Beach is familiar with, but the grand smile on the youngster’s face, ear to ear, said all that had to be said; it was a moment he’ll never forget.
It’s also moments like this that McCauley and Gill don’t ever forget. It’s all part of giving back.
“This is home for me, and with all the cities and towns we’ve travelled to, we always come back here,” said McCauley, 45.
“To participate in an event like this, participate this weekend, it’s somewhat giving back to an area and community that gave a lot to me and continues to give to me.”
McCauley wrapped up his playing career in 2007. Gill, 57, ended his playing career in 2004.
McCauley was born in Brockville but grew up in Gananoque, not far from the Lou Jeffries arena.
“I grew up on Garden Street, but it was always a big question, because a lot of people in Gananoque would take offence to the fact that people said I was from Brockville, because that’s what it said on the back of my hockey card, which was accurate. I was born in Brockville. My grandparents lived on Water Street. The hospital was just a few blocks away. I did spend a lot of time in Brockville, at Don’s Fish and Chips, Riverfest, all of that good stuff, but this has always been home.”
And there are a few banners in the Lou Jeffries arena with his name on it, banners from 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, from his days in Pewee and Atom when he and his teammates won All Ontario Championships.
“I remember this rink fondly,” McCauley said.
After autograph signings and photos were done, McCauley and Gill took part in a skate with the public, which was free.
(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)