Jacob Bestebroer writes a regular column in the Chilliwack Progress during hockey season, discussing the Chilliwack Chiefs and the BCHL.
Since the Chilliwack Chiefs moved here from Richmond in 1990, it’s been a dream of mine to be on the Chiefs bench as the clock counted them down to a national championship victory.
I’d let myself envision it in my mind so many times.
Some day it would happen and I didn’t care where. I would be on or near the bench as the Chiefs nailed down their first national title.
Prior to Sunday, the Chiefs had never won a national championship so this dream had escaped me till now.
I’d traveled to the Junior A hockey national championships in Fort McMurray, Alberta in 2000 and Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2002 with the hopes of seeing it play out live. Both times the Chiefs fell short dropping one goal decisions in the tournament’s semi-final.
This time around my dream was as close as it could get. And to add so much more to it, it was happening in Chilliwack, the city in which I’ve lived my entire life.
With just under two minutes left in Sunday’s RBC Cup Final and the Chiefs holding a 4-2 lead over the Wellington Dukes, I started my way down from the suite I was watching from towards the Chiefs bench.
I’d mapped out my way and it seemed pretty simple.
The two seats on the right side of the Chiefs bench were empty. Between those seats and the bench, just a simple gate.
Just a simple gate.
As the clock wound down the game’s final seconds I made it to the two seats. As did the Chiefs mascot. ‘This should only help me,’ I thought.
Belle is not small and usually gets what she wants.
She wanted what I did, a spot on the Chiefs bench.
Seventeen seconds left in the game. Time to calmly walk on to the Chiefs bench and celebrate with a group that I had in some way, be it fan, volunteer, billet, guardian angel, or employee been involved with for all but five of the last 28 years of my life.
One not so slight problem.
From out of nowhere a fully armed police officer had appeared.
He seemed to have but one job and he was taking it seriously.
He was there to keep people like from me getting to the Chiefs bench. He was not taking this task lightly.
I was in the wrong.
I was not wearing the pass needed to gain such access. Belle was of no help to me. She made it through using her giant head as a pass of sorts, and had left me behind.
So close yet so far and the seconds kept counting down.
I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t been trained for such a situation.
Heck, was there training for such a situation?
My mind was racing but was also taking the time to ponder such things.
Then I was rescued. My longtime friend and coworker, Andrea Laycock, was there to save the day.
She explained to the officer that I needed to be on the bench.
It wasn’t easy but my dream came true.