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Photos: 'Electric' crowds, random Americans make for thrilling beer league hockey game in Burnaby

'It makes no sense for anyone to come here, let alone for these Americans to go as far as they did, but here we are.'

In the sweaty, chilled air of Scotia Barn in Burnaby, the Big Rocks beer league hockey team put on a show in front of a rare crowd of fans, including eight random Americans who showed up all the way from Washington, D.C.

The Big Rocks came out with a 5-2 victory to the delight of more than 50 hootin'-and-hollerin' fans.

The event was the brainchild of Jared Elder, a Pittsburgh native now living in D.C., who thought it would be “hilarious” to take his buddies on their annual hockey trip to a “random” beer league game.

Dan Webster, captain of the Burnaby-based Big Rocks team, ran with the idea and set up a tailgate party and raffle for Canucks Autism Network that raised almost $3,000.

“We had a great time; we scored a bunch of goals and won the game,” Webster said. “The fans definitely helped.”

The Big Rocks faced off against the Spartans at Scotia Barn in front of approx. 50 fans, including a group from Washington, D.C., on Jan. 25, 2024. All photos By Jennifer Gauthier

The game had it all, friendly chirping, heavy hits, great goals, physics-defying saves – even a penalty shot.

Elder said the game and fan experience was “electric.”

He gave a shout out to the opposing team the Spartans who brought in a contingent of their own fans from Maple Ridge.

“That was awesome,” Elder said. “That is the spirit of what this is about. …  That was beautiful.”

Those Spartans fans came out to cheer on their friend Zack Bliss-Philippot.

“I heard that the boys from the States were coming, and I rounded up as many people as I could,” Bliss-Philippot said.

He got more than 15 people out from Maple Ridge to Scotia Barn, and he and his girlfriend made signs for the Spartans.

“I was like, this will be the biggest crowd I’ve ever played for, regardless of if it’s just the eight guys that come out. … Let’s make signs, and I’m going to gather as many people as I can to get out there.”


Bliss-Philippot’s brother Dylon was up in the stands cheering the Spartans on with mom Karen Bliss as well.

“It makes no sense for anyone to come here, let alone for these Americans to go as far as they did, but here we are,” Dylon said.

“All for this beer league game where it’s going to be, honestly, just terrible hockey, but it’s going to be funny, and we’re all going to have a good time.”


Fans were all smiles in the Rink 1 stands.

One man said he had lived in Burnaby for years but had never come to Scotia Barn, despite living right across the highway.

He read the Burnaby NOW article on the event.

“I saw about this, and the Americans coming up here. (If) they can come over from Washington, D.C., I may as well come two kilometres,” Ron of Burnaby said, who declined to give his last name.

Other fans, like Nate Erickson, saw the post on Reddit and brought a cowbell.

“I can’t use it in my apartment, so this is a great opportunity,” he said.

Goaltending clinic by Ramos

Players and fans alike unanimously agreed Big Rocks goaltender Wynjhon Ramos stood on his head with 35 saves.

Ramos, who’s played since he was a teen, said he treated the night like a regular game – but added the fans energized the Big Rocks.

“It’s for a good cause, to support the Canucks Autism Network,” he said.


On one particular play, facing a battery of shots, Ramos turned three sure goals into a triple-save acrobatic sequence and, while he wound up losing his glove in the action, the puck stayed out.

Fans went wild in the stands.

But Ramos described the play modestly.

“I had my glove, and then I knew there was a huge rebound, but … I just waved my hand down and just pulled out my paddle and got lucky.”

His teammate, centre Jordan Letawsky who had the game-winning third goal of the night, said he was “losing (his) mind” over the play.

“I was like, OK, well, he made two saves in a row there, this third one’s bound to go in, and he just stretches out with a limb I’ve never seen him have before, and just saves it. It was insane.”


Letawsky joked: “I’m so happy he decided to stick with us, because for the most part we leave him a lot of odd-man rushes, and he bails us out a lot.”

Hattrick energy

A close second star of the night – and the winner of the team’s prized player-of-the-week “hair” trophy (“a goofy little yellow wig,” Webster called it) – was Dustin Rahier with a hattrick.

“It was my first one in a long, long time,” Rahier said. “I don’t generally score a whole lot.”


The Americans threw a hat onto the ice to celebrate the hattrick – and they got all the Big Rocks players to sign that hat as a momento of the night.

While he had the hattrick, Rahier said the highlight of the game for him was a toe-drag move through his opponent’s legs, with a pass to teammate Dave Dalby who finished it off.

Big Rocks left winger Jason (Red) Marshall has been playing about a decade.

“There was a lot of energy brought by the crowd,” he said. “It was a very different experience.”

“But we took that energy, and we played hard. You can kind of tell we gassed out a little bit in the second, which allowed the other team to sort of get the jump on us. But we rallied in the third, and we just played hard.”


He said having fans in the crowd was the best part of the night.

“Honestly, just having people here watching us be bad at hockey … It just made us play a lot harder.”

He said the D.C. guys called out the lineup before the game, amping the players up.

“It was pretty exciting, and it wasn’t until we got out there and started warming up – we saw everybody, and it was like, ‘Oh, wow. There’s a lot of people here.’ And the fact that the other team responded with their own fans was amazing.”

Jessica Olsen, Big Rocks defence, said she had a good time and laughed as she added she took a lot of hits in the game.

“But as long as you get back up, right?” 


Olsen said the camaraderie is what she loves most about the game.

“Tailgating afterwards, but also hanging out in the dressing room. It’s nice to just forget about your troubles and play a good game.”

“These guys are the best.”

Olsen’s almost-eight-year-old daughter Nevaeh, who proudly wore a jersey with a “Little Rocks” logo and the number 2.2 after her mom’s 22, watched from the stands.

“When I grow up, I want to be a hockey player just like my mom,” Nevaeh said. “And be a teacher.”

She said her favourite part of watching the game is “so I can cheer her on.”

American fans have good time in Burnaby

The D.C. fans brought kazoos and signs, including a whiteboard (“Refs, let them play!”) and by the end of the night their voices were hoarse from cheering.

Most wore borrowed orange Big Rocks jerseys.


Tourism Burnaby heard about the story and gave the Americans gift bags featuring goods from local businesses.

Ben Malakoff of D.C. admired the rinks at Scotia Barn, which he called “a beautiful complex.”

“Six full sheets? We don’t have anything like this near us in D.C.,” he said.

“Best we have is maybe a three-sheet arena where two of them are NHL-sized and one is like a petri dish.”

The group has travelled all over, visiting smaller hockey towns across Canada and the States, including Red Deer, Sorel and Trois-Rivières.

“It’s going to be tough to beat this,” Elder said.