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Charity game pays tribute to community hockey coach

Lou Lockyer took great pleasure in recognizing East York youngsters who loved playing hockey as much as he did. The East York Memorial Arena remembered Lockyer in a charity game on Sunday. (LOU_LOCKYER_PRESENTS TROPHY)

East York hockey enthusiast Jason Bond remembers one of the community’s celebrated coaches, Lou Lockyer, fondly.

“He would smile at every single kid that would walk into this place,” Bond said. “He always made everyone feel welcome when they came into this building.”

Lockyer’s son, Mitchell, also has happy memories of his dad at the arena. He said his father often played mini sticks in the arena hallway with the kids and told them hockey stories.

“He was a big kid himself,” Mitchell Lockyer said. “He was great with kids.”

Lou Lockyer was a regular fixture at the East York Memorial Arena, whether it was attending the snack bar, helping kids with their equipment, coaching hockey or organizing a select team for the EYHA. On Sunday, Feb. 13, the East York Hockey Association (EYHA) did something it has never done before; it hosted a charity hockey game in Lou Lockyer’s honour.

Connie Mitchell co-ordinates special events for the EYHA; she was instrumental in setting up the charity game.

“When Lou passed away unexpectedly back in April, there was quite an outpouring from the community,” she said, “He was very important actually and that’s why we are doing this event.”

The game featured the East York hockey coaches against a group of local firefighters.

Two of Lockyer’s sons played in the charity game. Jonathan Lockyer, 25, played in net for the East York coaches, Michael Lockyer, 21, played for the local firefighters.

“I have been looking forward to this game for a couple months now,” Jonathan Lockyer said. “I felt like a kid at Christmas last night waiting for the game.”

Fans from East York and across Toronto filled the arena to see the firefighters win 5-4. Since Lou Lockyer died, Connie Mitchell said, the toughest part is not seeing Lou Lockyer work at the snack bar.

“It’s like coming into Lou’s home and him not being here,” she said. “Some days it’s hard because he’s not at the snack bar, as he always was.”

The EYHA hopes to raise $2,200 for a bench commemorating Lou Lockyer; it will be located at the front of the arena.

Mitchell is heartened by community support for the EYHA.

“The saddest part about today is that Lou isn’t here to see it,” she said.