Author: Paul Brian/ Drayton Valley Western Review

Roger would have been proud.

The Drayton Valley Thunder bested the visiting Canmore Eagles 5-2, on Oct. 18 in a special game celebrating the life of former team president, board member and community leader Roger Coles.

Coles died in June of this year at 54.

A packed house watched as Coles’ family gathered for a special presentation of a jersey honouring him and his contributions to the team.

“Though his seat stays empty in Section C, his spirit remains throughout our community,” the announcer said.

Coles’ wife Michelle then came on the ice with other family members for the jersey presentation by Assistant Captain Nathan Smith, who billeted with the Coles for one year.

“This Thunder jersey is to remember Roger and all of his dedication to this organization,” the announcer added.

Smith then hugged Michelle in an emotional moment.

A commemorative banner honouring the always-vocal fan was also hung in the media platform and will stay there for years to come.

Former Drayton Valley Mayor Moe Hamdon, who was also a close friend of Coles, was touched by the display of love from the community.

“Tonight is special when you’re dedicating it to one of your strongest supporters, and we have all of Rogers friends and family out tonight to enjoy the game,” Hamdon said. “To get out there and play your heart out and try to give a win to the family I think is kind of nice. Watching the Thunder play it looks like they’ve got a little extra jump in their step tonight.

As for the excellent game, Hamdon had only good things to say about that as well.

“It’s good to see the Thunder play well and do well, because they’re our team and we always hope that they win,” he said, adding that by the second period he was sure the Thunder would win.

Hamdon was right, in a game that showed the kind of core strength the Thunder squad has when they come together as a team and communicate on ice.

Jamie Waddington opened up scoring for the Thunder with a wicked wrister from just inside the zone, followed by Mathieu Lapointe, establishing a two-goal lead at the end of the first.

In the second the Eagles responded with a goal, followed by a comeback from the Thunder’s Brandon Long. The Eagles then found the back of the net once more near the end of the second making the score 3-2 Thunder.

From that point on it was all Thunder.

Trevor Poirier scored at 9:00 of the third unassisted and Nathan Smith finished up at 10:08 on the power play, sending a beautiful goal home to the net and raising his hand in tribute to the Coles family who meant so much to him and the whole Thunder team.

It was a fitting end to a game played, and won, for a man who dedicated so much to the team he supported.