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HOT CORNER: Former coach Forbie Kennedy says Mike (Pinky) Gallant left his mark with a team-first attitude

['Joe MacIntyre']
['Joe MacIntyre']

Benefit for popular Summerside sporting figure goes Friday evening

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

His former junior hockey coach best described the value Mike (Pinky) Gallant brought to teams he played on.
“A real team man – everything was for the team,” emphasized P.E.I. hockey legend Forbie Kennedy, who coached Gallant with the Summerside Crystals in the former Island Junior League back in the late 1970s. “It wasn't for Pinky, it was always for the team.”
Gallant is in a battle of his life with prostate cancer, and recently retired to be with his family and help him cope with the aggressive chemo treatments he is undergoing.
There will be a huge benefit/auction and appreciation night for Gallant on Friday at Credit Union Place, where everyone is welcome. It will be a big night for the-just-turned-61-year-old Gallant and, without doubt, a huge success.
To say Gallant left his mark in many Prince Edward Island hockey rinks would be an understatement.
“He’s a great guy and an exceptional teammate, who would always be there to defend his teammates,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy tells the story of when Roy Huestis was the captain of the Crystals, and Pinky was one of the assistants. Kennedy and Huestis had a disagreement that resulted in Huestis threatening to quit, which did not sit well with Kennedy.
Cooler heads prevailed with Huestis wanting to stay and apologize, which Kennedy thought should be to the team before the next game. Kennedy thought that he would strip the captaincy from Huestis for that game, and handed the No. 4 jersey with the “C” to Gallant and Gallant's No. 9 that had an “A” to Huestis.
Kennedy was under suspension at the time, and after the pre-game pep talk, he retreated to the warm area of the then Civic Stadium to watch the warm-up. Huestis and Gallant took the ice wearing their own No. 4 and 9, respectively, which prompted Kennedy to return to the dressing room to investigate. Gallant met Kennedy and told him: “You always said what happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room, and we do not want people thinking something was wrong.”
What was Kennedy’s response?
“He was right, and what could I say?”
Huestis remained the captain!

Senior hockey
After graduating from junior, Gallant became one of the original members of the Crapaud Ramparts’ senior team that would go on to become the most successful hockey franchise this province has ever seen. The Ramparts’ success will be a story for another time, but Gallant became a key member of that team that would later move to Borden-Carleton. 
Gallant, a well-respected referee following his playing career, was as tough as they come as a player. Any team he played on was not only better with him in the lineup, but played with a lot less fear knowing that Gallant was there to keep the flies off as they say in hockey.
If you were on the receiving end of a body check from Gallant, you felt it. Gallant never wore shoulder pads, and that is a testament of the strength and toughness of the Summerside native. A special player that greatly improved any team he played for is a legacy of Gallant’s playing career.
All the best to Gallant and his family, and all those involved with Friday’s benefit.

Midget hockey
The Western Regals are having a great season in the P.E.I. Midget AAA Hockey League. The first-place Regals took a perfect 21-0-0 (won-lost-tied) record into Friday night's game in Souris against second place Kings County, which has an impressive record of 17-5-3.
The Alberton-based Regals have always had a strong midget program, and it is never surprising to see them at or near the top. Of their 21 wins, 19 of those have been by three or more goals, and 14 have been by four goals or more.
They have allowed only 47 goals in those 21 games, and that does not happen very often in amateur hockey at any level.
The Regals have six games remaining on their regular-season schedule, including a pair this weekend. After a long trip to Souris on Friday night, the Regals play in Pownal on Saturday in a quick turnaround game at 4:30 p.m.
If the Regals get through this weekend unscathed, there will be a very good chance they could go the full regular season without a loss. They do play Kings County again in Souris, but other than that they have a schedule that makes an unbeaten regular season very attainable. They finish the season at home on Feb. 9 against the Mid-Isle Matrix.
Good luck to the Regals the rest of the way.
Have a great week!

Joe MacIntyre is a local life insurance broker. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to joemacintyre18@gmail.com.

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