“This is where his heart was.”
When Irene Crowther said those words about her son, Bradley, she was referring to the Westville Miners Sports Centre in Westville.
Sunday night, Bradley, who passed away suddenly in the summer of 2012, was remembered through a short ceremony after the midget C championship game of the Westville Miners Annual Christmas Hockey Tournament. It was the inaugural year for the midget C final being named the Bradley Crowther midget C championship game. The Miners also retired his no. 18 midget C jersey, giving his family the jerseys.
Irene felt it was a fitting way to ensure Bradley’s memory lives on in the hockey community where he learned to play the game, beginning when he was 10-years-old.
“He loved hockey and played his whole life right here in Westville,” she said. “He played off the ice on his Xbox, played road hockey and watched it as much as he could.”
Irene said he was a Boston Bruins fan and he would spend hours watching the Bruins, world juniors or any game he could find on TV. She also said she would find him awake at 5 or 6 a.m., on more than one occasion, playing NHL games with his friends on the Xbox.
“He just lived for sports and lived for hockey,” she said.
When asked what he liked more about hockey than baseball, which he also played, Irene laughed.
“He liked the physical contact part of the game,” she said. “He got lots of penalties and spent more time in the penalty box than on the ice sometimes it seemed. He seemed to really like being in there.”
Dave Sinnis, tournament chairman, said the moment the Miners community heard of Bradley’s passing that players were approaching him looking for a way to remember their teammate and friend. He said that naming the midget C championship game and plaque after Bradley was a perfect idea, which came from Irene.
“We talked about different things with players and his friends, but Irene was the one who believed this game was the best way to remember him,” he said. “He was a fixture at this hockey tournament helping out with the music or the clock when he wasn’t playing. We also wanted it to be something significant and this being a big tournament for the Miners we believed this was the best time to do it.”
Irene said annually when the tournament took place that the only time she would see Bradley was to drop off food for him, to drop him off, pick him up, or before and after games. She said he lived at the rink every year for the tournament.
“You always knew where he was during the holidays,” she said. “He was here from open until close every day and enjoyed every minute of it.”