Organizer guarantees a win for the firefighters at Chowder Cup


  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Do you recognize anyone in this photo? These are members of the Rusty Blades RCMP squad that competed in the Chowder Cup in the late &#8217;80s.</p>

LUNENBURG – The 50th annual Chowder Cup is right around the corner.

The event that sees the members of the Lunenburg Fire Department take on local RCMP officers will take place March 11 at 6 p.m.

Organizer Trevor Lohnes, a firefighter for 29 years, is confident that his team will prevail this year.

"Last year we got beat bad. But it goes back and forth," he said and did not want to take a jab at the competition, but..."we're going to take them anyhow. This is our year. It's the 50th anniversary and we're going to win.

"It's always a good time and everyone looks forward to it. It's a good day, overall."

Lohnes said the game does get competitive and everyone tries their hardest to pick up the win, the trophy and bragging rights.

Looking back a few years, when he first started playing in the event, members of the RCMP were picking up players from all over the province which included some ex-junior players. Meanwhile, the firefighters kept in local, maybe borrowing a few from departments within the area.

"It wasn't really fair of them getting all of these players," lamented Lohnes.

Now, however, in the last eight years or so, the RCMP team picks up members from Chester, Cookville and Lunenburg to make things a bit more even.

He also recalls a time, when the firefighters also travelled to Sackville to play members of the RCMP from that area. He recalls many good bus trips coming out of that experience; however, they stopped travelling several years and they keep it local.

"We just decided to stick with playing local. Up there we didn't know most the RCMP players and although the games were fun, it wasn't as much fun as playing against the guys that we work with all the time," he said.

Following the game, players, and their families head over to the fire department hall and are treated to a chowder supper and the cup is officially awarded to the winning team.

Jack Rafuse, now 74, was the lead organizer of the very first game in 1973.

"It started back in 1973. RCMP officer Jerry Hackett was a police officer originally from Blue Rocks. I was playing hockey at that time out of Bridgewater and Halifax where we met," said Rafuse. "He wanted to do a fun game with his group of guys to go against some local players (the fire department) and that's how it all started."

Rafuse said the fire department "just had a so-so, fun hockey team and they would win most every game for the first few years."

He said Hackett always played a serious game and wanted to win. But the fire department was able to catch-up as more members joined the fire department and the wins would go back and forth.

Games would be played in Lunenburg, Sackville, Bedford and Halifax, as a home-and-home series.

"It was all kinds of fun and we would take a bus to the games to keep us out of trouble," said Rafuse.

He played from 1973 up until just two years ago and was a member of the fire department for 26 years. He still attends the games and is the official beer... or stick guy and heckler.

"We give them a hard time on the ice," he admitted, adding that the hockey game is just one part of the event.

"It's really about coming together and socializing. We keep in contact with one another and even other RCMP and other firefighters come out and watch and bring their families to be a part of it. It's always a great time."

The event is open to anyone to come and watch with no charge for admission. However, there will be a fireman's boot at the door for anyone wishing to donate to muscular dystrophy.

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