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Longtime Kensington hockey supporter was driving force behind getting Atlantic junior B championship started
No one would have been any prouder of the scene at Credit Union Centre in Kensington on Sunday afternoon than the late Robert K. Cousins.
That is because two Prince Edward Island teams – host Kensington Vipers and three-time Island Junior Hockey League-champion Western Red Wings – met before a capacity crowd in a winner-take-all final of the 2019 Don Johnson Memorial Cup – the Atlantic junior B hockey championship he was instrumental in starting in 1982.
“It was his determination and hard work that was crucial in conceiving a tournament of this size out of thin air,” said Credit Union Centre public address announcer Jeremy MacDonald during last week’s opening ceremonies. “This is the fourth time Kensington has hosted the tournament and it’s truly remarkable to see Robert’s dream going strong nearly 40 years later in the exact same spot it started.”
Cousins, a longtime supporter of junior B and juvenile hockey in Kensington, named the championship after the late Don Johnson, who has been described as a pioneer of hockey across Canada and especially in the Atlantic provinces. The tournament was renamed the Don Johnson Memorial Cup in 2013 following Johnson’s passing in 2012.
“Robert started it all,” Johnson told the Journal Pioneer at the 2011 championship in Montague.
The St. John’s Celtics defeated the host Kensington Bombers 5-3 in the championship game of the inaugural tournament before 900 fans. A special moment that year featured Johnson presenting the championship trophy to his son, Mike, who was an assistant captain with the Celtics.
Cousins also operated the host team when Kensington hosted the 1986 Don Johnson Cup.
Cousins also served as a former assistant manager of Community Gardens under manager Pat Hudson and headed up many renovation and expansion projects at the facility, including construction of the current Vipers’ dressing room for his Kensington Islanders – a team he owned, managed and coached in the New Brunswick Junior Hockey League for the 1990-91 season.
The 2019 tournament featured five teams, including the provincial champions from New Brunswick (Moncton Vitos), Nova Scotia (Sackville Blazers) and Newfoundland and Labrador (CBR Renegades). A total of 10 round-robin games were played from Tuesday through Friday, along with two semifinal games on Saturday.