The moment you see rock stars hit the ice, you know JUNO weekend has commenced. This year’s JUNO Cup practice was held on Thursday, March 12th at the Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena in Hamilton, Ontario, host city of the 2015 JUNO Awards. The JUNO weekend traditionally starts off with a fundraiser hockey game featuring some of NHL’s greats facing off against some of Canada’s biggest musicians. JUNO Cup raises funds for MusiCounts, a Canadian initiative intent on supporting music education from coast to coast in our schools and communities. With current and former NHL all stars like Mark Napier to artists such as Sam Roberts facing off in the rink, the JUNO Cup game takes place on Friday, March 13th(Tonight!). It sure is going to be an interesting game since the NHL Greats have won the Cup every year but one since the tradition began in 2004. We got a moment to chat with a few participating in the game:
Drummer Chris Crippin, from rock band Hedley (and also a 2015 JUNO Award nominee) said his main strategy for the game is to “destroy all opponents”. He said he has “extremely high confidence” since he feels like he’s been practicing for this game: “my whole life, I feel like”.
The epic Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor from Walk off the Earth has also been prepping for this big game. “I’ve been working on my beard since September, growing out my beard be this is kinda the peak of my hockey seasons, so this is my playoff here.”
Although this game is all in good fun, he explains: “It’s been a childhood dream to be a JUNO Cup champion; I know that the Juno [Artists] won on one occasion but there is a lot of talk that this is our year”. Hopefully these artists turn all their tough talk into game-winning points. He also gives insight into his pre-game strategies: “Working all season on the hook, got a new stick with an extra angle and basically get an extra toe on the ice”.
Bassist Jon Gallant from punk rock band Billy Talent tells of his true Canadian talent: “It’s been in me since I was a kid and I’ll probably never stop”; he’s talking about hockey of course. “I never won. I’ve played in a lot of these games and the rockers one time and I actually wasn’t there for that one, but I really want to win badly.”
Gary Leeman, former NHL all star better known for being the second Toronto Maple Leaf player ever to score 50+ goals in a single NHL season, was also in attendance during practice.
He reveals his strategy to get through the game: “Short shifts definitely, cause I don’t think I can handle more than 30 seconds on the ice at once and pass the cup as much as possible.” When asked how long he’s been practicing for the big JUNO Cup game he says “I try and play as much as I can during the year but, as much as I can and that’s a really small amount.”
We will see how well the NHL Greats play tonight against a seemingly confident rocker team.
The JUNO Cup will be taking place Friday, March 13 (Tonight!) at 7:30 p.m at the Dave Andreuchuk Mountain Arena & Skating Centre. Tickets can be purchased here !
[Edited and Revised by Amanda Alkhani]
[Photography by Aaron DeJesus]