Monday, January 19, 2015


Wear an Old Hat!

                                                Chris Kushneriuk and Patrick McEachen

If you are attending a hockey game featuring two high scoring teams, wear an old hat. At a recent Florida Everblades game, we sat near the last row in the arena. Chris Kushneriuk netted his third goal in the game. I expected the avalanche of hats to hit the ice. To my utter dismay,  only one hat was thrown on the ice. One! Some tribute!

I was shocked. Bobby Feldman, a serious hockey fan, and long-time Florida resident, said that hats are just too expensive nowadays. That being the case, I suggest that you buy cheap hats to wear to hockey games.

Kushneriuk began the weekend with four goals in 23 games. He added markers in his last three contests, and now has nine as the teams break for the All Star game. The Everblades stand in first place in the ECHL’s East Division of the Eastern Conference. They have 53 points in 34 games, but remain only 12 points ahead of the fifth place team from South Carolina.

Kushneriuk has truly experienced the most amazing route in his career. An Ottawa native, he began his junior career with the Orleans Blades in the Central Junior loop. He played his University hockey in the States, finishing up at Robert Morris University. In 2010, he began his pro career in Wheeling, West Virginia, with the Nailers. He also played for the Bakersfield Condors the following year, and began experiencing discomfort.

Chris was twenty-five years old at that time, often the prime time in one’s hockey career. Following several trips to the doctor, he learned that he had Stage Four testicular cancer, and that it had spread to his lymph nodes, his liver and his abdomen. He underwent treatments of chemotherapy and surgery at Indiana University, under the care of Dr. Lawrence Einhorn.

He regained his strength with the support of his professional hockey friends, his faith, and his former mates from Robert Morris University. He now works with the Canadian Cancer Society, offering assistance and motivation whenever possible. “I call it a bad dream I had to wake up from. It’s cool being on the other end of it, and being able to turn something so devastating into something good.”

He spent almost half an hour on the ice after the others had left practice, with Patrick McEachen, working on quick passing and shooting drills. McEachen returned to the ice last weekend after missing several games due to injury.

The Blades are on the road this coming weekend for a pair of games against the Gwinnett Gladiators. They lost 7-2 to the Gladiators on Saturday night, and yet Coach Poss is happy with their position at this time. “This break is coming at the exact right time for us.”

No matter. Just get out there and buy a cheap hat, if you don’t mind!

James Hurst
January 19, 2015   

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