Chicoutimi, Grizzlies score with puck drop surprise

Chicoutimi Grizzlies puck drop surprise

Sam Tilson, centre, was surprised with a centre-ice promotion by his father Sam, and Commanding Officer of HMCS Victoria, LCdr Eric Isabelle, at the Grizzlies Military Appreciation Game Jan. 25. He is now Chief Petty Officer Second Class Tilson. Photo by Kyle Robinson.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

What was supposed to be a ceremonial puck drop transformed into an unexpected centre ice promotion for Chief Petty Officer Second Class Joel Tilson.

The HMCS Chicoutimi submariner was hand picked by his unit to start the Victoria Grizzlies military appreciation hockey night Junior ‘A’ game against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at The Q Centre in Colwood on Jan. 25.

“This was my first time taking part in a professional hockey game’s opening ceremony, so I was a little bit nervous as I walked out onto the red carpet and the stadium lights dimmed.”

Greeting him on the ice was LCdr Eric Isabelle, HMCS Victoria Commanding Officer, and father Sam. “I was in complete shock and had no idea this would be happening until about five minutes before the opening faceoff,” said CPO2 Tilson.

His father and mother had secretly flown in from Kelowna to attend the game.

“It was a very unique way to promote someone and it was great the crew members were able to keep this a secret until game time,” said CPO2 Jacob Underwood, Coxwain.

As LCdr Isabelle and Sam affixed the new epaulettes to Joel’s uniform, the crowd cheered.

The military appreciation game served as a fundraiser for the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC).

The Grizzlies also wore specially designed camouflage uniforms for the game. At the end of the game, a 6-2 victory for Victoria, the team jerseys were auctioned off. Members from HMCS Chicoutimi pitched in to buy Brady MacDonald’s jersey for CPO2 Tilson, who autographed the jersey.

CPO2 Tilson’s wife Oz, CPO2 Underwood, and CPO2 David Niezen organized the surprise promotion with the Grizzlies and the MFRC.

“It was a complete morale booster for me and all the other members of the Canadian Armed Forces,” said CPO2 Tilson. “It is encouraging and incredible to see the amount of support we get from local sports teams in Victoria.”

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