Trenton Golden Hawks Celebrate Jenn Casey

By Tim Durkin  Director of Business Development

Trenton Golden Hawks Hockey Club

Trenton, or should I say Quinte West, is known as “Air Force City”.  The connection between Canadian Forces Base Trenton, the municipality, and the residents, is like family.  In fact, not only is Quinte West family, but the Bay of Quinte region shows great pride in the women and men that serve at Canada’s largest air force base.  It is Canada’s military transportation hub.  With Canadian Forces Detachment Mountain in Prince Edward County, under the jurisdiction of 8-Wing Trenton, it seemed only fitting that a club from The County, and the junior team from Trenton would meet in a game that garnered national attention for our military.  The game was not just for our military, but in particular, a former Quinte West resident.

On Friday November 27th at the Duncan McDonald Memorial Community Gardens, the Wellington Dukes and Trenton played Game-7 of their 8-Game Summit Series.  It was called the Hasty Ps Cup (presented by Trent Valley Distributors).  For that game, the Golden Hawks changed their jersey, their socks, and their name to the Trenton Snowbirds. They switched from black, white and gold, to the red, blue, and white of the Tudor planes that are part of the Snowbirds Aerobatics Team.  The game was played in honour of former Quinte West resident Captain Jennifer Casey.  Casey died in May, after she and Captain Richard MacDougall crashed shortly after takeoff in British Columbia.  MacDougall was injured, while Casey died, doing what they loved to do.  They were part of “Operation Inspiration”, a coast-to-coast mission The Snowbirds undertook, to bring joy to Canadians during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In a moving pre-game ceremony, dignitaries participated in a puck drop.  Warrant Officer (Ret’d) Veteran Daryl Watters, CFB Trenton Commander Colonel Ryan Deming, Chief Warrant Officer Dan Baulne,  MP Neil Ellis, MPP Todd Smith, Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison, Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson, Title Sponsor, Trent Valley Distributors Owner Chris Auger (former Wellington Duke), and Master Corporal (Ret’d) Ryan Isbister were the special guests for the pre-game ceremony.

Family, friends and dignitaries sent wishes over video.  They included Captain Caseys Father JP Thimot, Step-Father Rob Tough, her partner Scott Boyd (a former Snowbird Captain), Leader of the Official Opposition Erin O’Toole, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Snowbirds Commander Lt Col Denis Bandet, and former Commander of the International Space Station Chris Hadfield.

Doing the National Anthem was from the shores of her Lake Ontario home just outside of Kingston, was Miss Emily (Emily Fennell Taylor), a native of Prince Edward County.  Miss Emily, along with Paul Langois and Gord Sinclair of The Tragically Hip also performed a campfire/lakeside version of “Wheat Kings”.  Captain Casey’s favourite band was The Hip and she attended their final show in Kingston.  

The game was played with the doors locked to fans, due to the pandemic.  The bright lights of YourTV (Cogeco 4/700) provided fans with the game, in their living room.  David Foot, a former radio colleague and friend of Captain Casey, told stories during the broadcast.  He shared memories of who she was, and about her passion for the game of hockey.”

The day was not just about remembering a great Canadian, and Quinte West resident, it was also a very important game.  The Wellington Dukes were one win away from lifting the 1st annual Hasty P’s Cup.  The trophy was named in honour of the Hastings Prince Edward Regiment.  Trenton was coming off their first win of the series in Game 6 and would need Game 7 and Game 8 wins to claim the trophy. The Snowbirds (Golden Hawks) came out inspired, firing 16 of the first 20 shots on goal.  They took a 1-0 lead.  Wyatt George put it home, after a furious battle in front of Ethan Morrow.  Assists went to Jaxen Boyer, and Julien Jacob.  Wellington Coach Derek Smith called a time out and calmed his players.  The period remained 1-0, with the shots 19-9 in favour of the Snowbirds.

To the second period where penalties cost Wellington.  Trenton would score twice on the power play.  Kyle Robinson took a shot from the line that trickled past Morrow at 5:56, with assists going to Griffen Fox and Dalton Bancroft.  About seven minutes later, Griffen Fox would take an off-wing pass from Kyle Robinson and hammer it home.  Joining Robinson on the assists was Jacob Campbell.  Shots were ten a piece in the middle frame. 

It was 3-0 after 40, and it would remain that way.  Trenton tied the series with the win, and the following Wednesday, they were crowned the first ever champions of the Hasty P’s Cup.

Director of Operations for the Golden Hawks (Snowbirds) John McDonald says the Game 7 tribute inspired the players.  “Celebrating Captain Casey was not only something we were happy to do, in tied into our community advocacy, and our team’s aviation and military history.  Captain Casey loved junior hockey.  She followed her Halifax Mooseheads, and then worked their broadcasts.  She went to Belleville Bulls games, and to the World Juniors on multiple occasions as well.  The outpouring of support from coast-to-coast-to-coast for this game was truly humbling.  We were happy that we could be a part of it.” 

Trenton Coach/GM Peter Goulet echoed McDonald’s comments.  “The players not only understood the importance of the game, but what it symbolized as well.  This was someone who meant a lot to the Quinte region, her Halifax and Moose Jaw communities, and the military.  It was a wonderful experience to be a part of, and I know it is something these young men will remember for years to come.  I know I will.”

“It was a great day”, said Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison.  “Hockey and life in general have been very difficult during these COVID times.  For this to take place was wonderful.  Both the Wellington Dukes and Trenton Golden Hawks should be proud of what they were able to accomplish.  They did Captain Casey, the OJHL, the military, and the Hastings Prince Edward Regiment proud.”

Following the game, the sweaters worn/issued to Trent players were sold and auctioned off, with funds going to Support Our Troops, an agency which provides assistance to service women and men, and their families.

There was such a national demand for the jerseys, the Golden Hawks received permission from the Department of Defense to print an additional 100 non-game worn jerseys.  They were sold out within three days.

 Officials with Support Our Troops and the Trenton Golden Hawks will hold a media announcement in early 2021 to announce the final amount raised.

Photos by Tim Bates and Andy Corneau OJHL Images

Pictured above: (l-r) Warrant Officer (Ret’d) Veteran Daryl Watters, CFB Trenton Commander Colonel Ryan Deming, Chief Warrant Officer Dan Baulne,  MP Neil Ellis, MPP Todd Smith, Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison, Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson, Title Sponsor Trent Valley Distributors Owner Chris Auger (former Wellington Duke), and Master Corporal (Ret’d) Ryan Isbister (Trenton Equipment Manager) dropped pucks for Wellington Captain (l) Ben Addison and Trenton Captain Griffen Fox (Photo: Andy Corneau/ OJHL Images)