KENSINGTON – A warning to some readers – the following story might make them feel their age a bit.
The Eric Jessome Memorial Kensington, P.E.I.–Bedford, Que., Peewee Friendship Hockey Exchange celebrated its 46th anniversary this year.
The event has been going so long that many of the original alumni now have grandchildren participating.
The Paquette clan from Bedford is a prime example.
Michel Paquette, also known as Farmer, has been a coach of the Bedford team for 27 years, and has been a driving force in keeping the exchange going for many of those years.
Michel’s son Steven is also coaching this year, and his grandson Justin Paquette is playing.
“I’ve been coaching so long, a lot of these kids I coached their parents,” smiled Michel. “You realize the value in this (exchange).
“They grow up so much in one weekend. They learn more to appreciate the other language in one weekend than I think we could show them in years.”
The Bedford-Kensington exchange is held over the course of two weekends each year, and involves a team from Bedford, Quebec, traveling to Kensington and then vice versa.
Kensington came out on top during Saturday’s game, wining 4-3.
Heidi Lauwerijssen and Krystof Wigmore each scored twice for Kensington while Justin Paquette, Logan Dubois and Julien Forget answered for Bedford.
Throughout the game, whenever someone scored they would go shake hands with the opposite team as well as their own.
Little things like that are what the exchange are all about, said Brian Weeks, one of the Kensington coaches.
“It teaches the kids that there’s more to hockey than just winning the game,” added Weeks. “There’s the friendship they make with these kids. . . it’s about hockey but it’s about a lot more than hockey.”
That’s certainly what Kensington player Heidi Lauwerijssen got out of it, she said.
“It was fun,” said Lauwerijssen. “We got to play against some friends that we just met.”
The Kensington team will travel to Bedford in early March for second half of the exchange.