Banners honour hockey fallen


Ashley Evans, FMF CB ~

Three banners have been created for future display at Naden’s Wurtele Arena to honour three defence community members passionate about hockey who passed away.

Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton (FMF CB) Shops 122, 123, and 124a created the banners in the memory of Joe Lescene, who had worked in the FMF CB woodshop (122) while winding down his navy career, Rob Sneath, and Keith (Butch) Cowden. All three were CAF/DND hockey players who contributed greatly to team successes and national championships.

The idea for these banners came following a tribute hockey game for Joe Lescene. Kelsey Khol, Shop Steward Shop 123, and Matt Hood, Shop Steward Shop 122, spearheaded this event after wanting to do something special for Lescene’s family. Kevin Zalba, manager of the Wurtele Arena,  became involved after helping host the tribute game, where he recognized an opportunity to also honour the memory of the other two men.

“I am extremely passionate about this project,” said Zalba. “They were major contributors to our hockey community and some of the nicest guys on the planet.”

When Rob Sneath passed away four years ago; he left a legacy of 30 national championships as the most highly decorated military hockey member in recent history.

Keith (Butch) Cowden held a 30-plus year hockey career, and is remembered as a prolific goaltender and revered competitor.

While Sneath and Cowden played for the Tritons, Lescene played for the Angry Beavers and the FMF Outlaws.

Not just a meaningful tribute, the banners were also a training opportunity that gave employees a chance to increase their skills and creativity.

“The banners have been a collaborative effort of years of design, and different members of Shop 123 adding their own artistic flair,” said Khol. “I was lucky enough to be included in this project, and during my spare time I played around with various designs while also sharpening my skills in the graphics side of our shop.”

Hood contributed his efforts crafting wooden dowels, Carly Smethurst from Shop 124a sewed the banners, and the team in Shop 123 created the design, production of banners, and applied finishing to the wood.

“Extreme efforts have been made to bring this to fruition,” said Zalba, expressing his gratitude to the contributions of those involved.

Two banners have the Tritons colours and logo to honour Rob Sneath and Keith (Butch) Cowden, and the other banner honours Joe Lescene with the Angry Beavers colours and his jersey number.

Zalba sees this as just the beginning in honouring hockey players who have made significant contributions to the local CAF/DND teams and communities, both military and civilian alike.

While there is no date set for the dedication ceremony, Zalba remains in contact with the honourees’ families, who have been invited to take part when it does. Zalba says the families are excited about the banners, and that the project has received positive feedback from all of those involved.


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  1. Tammie Tompkins nee Cowden says:

    This is great. I am Butch’s sister. Please contact me by email or call my cell at 604-789-5407.
    I would like to learn more.


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