Brandon Crewe doesn’t have any free time on his hands because the rink has become his second home and that’s just fine with him.
Crewe, a 24-year-old native of Irishtown, never played a game of ice hockey in his life, but he can now say he made his pro debut in the game he loves.
Crewe, who usually serves as equipment manager/trainer for the Corner Brook Royals of the West Coast Senior Hockey League and this winter took on the same role with the Western Kings of the provincial major midget hockey league, was called in to help an undermanned staff with the ECHL’s St. John’s team for two home games this week at Mile One Centre.
He made his pro debut during a 3-1 win for the Growlers Tuesday night and he was flat out running around Wednesday to get things for a game later that evening.
Crewe served as trainer for Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s under-14 male team at the 2018 Atlantic Challenge Cup in October. During that event he met a guy who helped the Growlers out on game day who told him the team’s assistant trainer was going to be missing in action this week, so there might be a chance for him to practice his craft in a pro environment.
He received a telephone call asking him if he was interested in stepping into the role and he didn’t need any time to say yes.
Being able to make life easier for the players, regardless of what level of hockey, has become something he takes pride in.
He spends six evenings a week working for either the Kings or Royals to ensure the players don’t have any worries when they show up on game night, and he has been having a blast, with all of the players always showing him appreciation and giving thanks for what he does behind the scenes.
All that work behind the scenes at night is followed by a daily diet of working as a parts clerk at a Corner Brook business and making trips to the gym.
“I’m crazy, I know,” Crewe said Wednesday afternoon during a break from his duties.
Cast into the spotlight on Tuesday at Mile One, he was too busy to watch any of the action develop on the ice, but he was pretty upbeat doing something that he hopes could lead to even bigger and better things down the road.
“It was a pretty surreal feeling. The organization behind the scenes is crazy,” he said.
Young hockey players dream of playing for their favourite National Hockey League team or wearing the Maple Leaf for Team Canada. It’s a passion that burns and pushes players to do what it takes to see where the game takes them.
Crewe will never score the big goal or make the big save, but he’s game for being an impact player in another way and hopes the gig with the Growlers opens other doors for him.
“It’s not every day something like this comes up, so any bit of experience I can get is good,” he said.
He has learned much since his first day hanging up towels in the Royals room, and one of the people who he credits for being one of his biggest supporters is Royals forward Andrew Stagg, a man who has an impressive resume in the craft after working for HNL and the St. John’s IceCaps in the same capacity.
“A lot of what I know really came from what Andrew taught me,” he said.