The world's leading hockey equipment manufacturer was impressed by three Kamloops Old Dogs, so impressed that it's donating gear to recognize their heroic deed last week.
The oldtimers hockey players were relaxing after a game when they spotted a woman fall through river ice while she tried to retrieve a dog from the water.
They leaped into action, grabbed a flagpole to extend their reach and carefully executed a rescue using teamwork to ensure they, too, didn't break through. Without their quick thinking, Kathryn Easton could have easily lost her life.
Tory Mazzola, global communications manager with Bauer Performance Sports, contacted The Daily News in hopes of reaching the team to make the offer a donation.
"We're always active in our community," Mazzola explained. The company recently launched a program called Own the Moment with a branding campaign called Heroes Always Leap Into Action, a perfect fit for the Old Dogs' deed.
The company will donate a complete set of head-to-toe hockey gear worth an estimated $1,800-$2,000 retail to each of the three rescuers. The players will be able to pick up their new gear from a local retailer.
"Oh my goodness," said team member Bob Reid when told of the donation. "I'm just kind of shocked."
He'd just returned from the rink where he spoke with teammate Tommy Blair, another one of the three who rescued Easton on Jan. 23. They reflected on the experience. Reid, who has responded in other emergencies without feeling side effects, hasn't slept since.
"It keeps coming back to me: That girl is gone unless someone goes out and helps."
The team usually wraps up its post-game gatherings earlier in the day, he noted. Normally, they wouldn't have been there to respond, although clubhouse staff also alerted 911 when they spotted Easton in trouble.
"We're never (there) late on a Wednesday."
Reid has had a range of reactions from people since the rescue, from verbal pats on the back to questioning the amount of publicity they received. A tale of hockey-related heroism with a happy ending, the story was picked up by media across Canada. That's how Bauer learned of it.
Then there was the retired police officer who plays hockey with the group. He pointed out that luck was on the team's side as well. They, too, could have wound up in the river.
"'You know, you guys did well. But be aware that these things can go sideways,'" he told Reid.
Yet the best lesson Reid draws from the experience is that it showed civilians can respond appropriately when confronted with an emergency situation. Waiting for others to take the lead can mean the difference between life and death.
"I hope that what comes out of this is that (others see) when people are in trouble, you help out."
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