After last year’s resoundingly successful Veterans Day hockey game, Tornado Luxembourg and Spangdahlem Air Base took to the ice once again on Saturday for a friendly match to honor military veterans and those who serve their countries, whether as soldiers, firefighters or police officers. The event took place one week after Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.
The match, which was played at the Kockelscheuer ice rink, was supported by the US Embassy and opened with a ceremony in which the US ambassador, Randolph Evans, walked to the center of the ice and dropped the puck. From the very beginning, it was a success. More than 500 spectators of myriad ages and nationalities filled the stands. Hockey moms, soldiers, cheering kids, grandparents and fans of the game turned out to show support and gather with friends and family.
Paivi Miquel came to watch “Giant Baby”, her 18-year old son Jasper, protect the goal. Fernandes do Silvo, a veteran of the Luxembourg army, showed up with his wife and three sons for their first experience at a hockey match. John Trent and his teammates from The Puckers, another Luxembourg hockey club, gathered to watch the contest and cheer for their friends who volunteered for the armed forces team. Even though The Puckers weren’t playing that night, the comrades were genuinely excited to be there together on the sidelines--there was Ainars Freimanis, a Latvian defender, Nick Aubin, a Canadian winger, Marak Farkas, a Slavakian winger, Luigi Ferrari, an Italian goalie, and Liam McEvoy, who is making a documentary about his incredibly diverse team.
During breaks, the young figure skaters of the Patinage Artistique entertained public and hockey players alike with endearing performances and food and paraphernalia stands opened. Monique Scheier, who has served as the Tornado president since 2001, manned the apparel stand where kids pleaded with their parents to buy Tornado jerseys and tiny American flags. She’s been a hockey spouse and hockey mom for 43 years. Her husband played goalie for Beaufort, the first team in Luxembourg, and their two sons started the game at the tender ages of four and five. Her son Ronny is now the Tornado’s captain.
In many respects, the competition on the ice was only part of the spectacle. People crowded together to drink beer and eat bratwurst, catch up with colleagues and enjoy a very lively ambiance. A big group of hockey lovers had come together on a Sunday evening to share something special. Loyal Tornados fans knew that among the players was Robo Beran, who competed alongside his sons Thierry and Markus Beran while his grandson watched from the bleachers. Those keen enough to notice, saw genuine pride in his eyes when Markus, assisted by his elder brother Thierry, scored his first Tornado goal late in the last period.
Although the Luxembourg Tornado won 17:3, the match was friendly--in all respects.