The score in the Cochrane Generals home season opener against the Kainai Braves was a lopsided 17-2. Yet, that's secondary to the significance of the Circle of Unity formed by the two teams in the opening ceremony.
Gens president Rick Richards says it was an appropriate time to talk about reconciliation.
"We called all the players from both teams to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and talk about what reconciliation means, and that from that point on they were all brothers."
Kirby Wells performed an honour song. He is a member of the Braves board and played for the original Braves team against the Generals in the 80s.
"He got all choked up at the moment because of all the things that have happened in his life between then and now."
Richards believes it was a historic moment for both teams.
"It was a very meaningful moment, and I told our players that this is just a beginning, these are just words, and now our actions have to follow. I don't know what that looks like at this point, but I believe this is our neck of the woods where we can make a difference."
"All we can do is give these young lads a chance and fight for them to have that chance."
Braves general manager Jacinta Wells dropped the opening puck. It was originally to be dropped by firefighters in recognition of 9/11, but they were called away to an emergency.
Over 300 fans came to celebrate the return of junior hockey, many of whom made the 2 1/2 hour trip to support the Braves. The Braves came into the game without having any exhibition play.
Just 34 seconds in, Patrick Forde notched his first of six goals on the night, assisted by Cade Jackson and Tristan Ripplinger. The Gens went on to carry a 9-0 lead into the second.
Antonio Holloway opened the scoring in the second to put the Braves on the scoreboard. He scored the Braves' only other goal in the third, and fans of both teams rose to give him the loudest cheers of the night.
For the Gens, Forde added one assist for a seven-point night, and linemate Dean Olenyk had six assists and one goal.
Jordan Marks scored a pair and assisted on three, Ripplinger had a goal and three assists, Mark Bouffard scored a pair, and singles went to Shane Benoit, Jamal Kalaf, Riley Hopper, Andrew Guss, and Dagan Kadlec.
"We've definitely got the squad we believed we had," says Gens assistant coach Erik Krigel. "Unfortunately, the Braves weren't prepared for their first game in the league."
You can anticipate a much closer game when the Gens head into the Okotoks Bisons' barn on Friday night, Sept. 17.
Krigel says the players have been told to revert to the bar set against Okotoks in the four-game exhibition series in late August, early September.
"With Okotoks being one of the top teams in the league, we wanted to get our standards set earlier for just this, in case there were a couple of weak teams, and we got complacent. We now have a focal point to go back to."
The Gens then head into Strathmore to take on the Wheatland Kings on Sept. 18. On Sept. 25, they're in Rocky Mountain House to face the Rocky Rams.
Their next home game is an afternoon matchup against the High River Flyers on Sept. 26 at the Cochrane Arena.