Four Mounties from Mayerthorpe who were gunned down by James Roszko were remembered before a hockey game that involved the community’s old-timers team at the home of the Oilers.
Five memorial candles were lit in front of a few thousand fans at Rexall Place in a pre-game ceremony with the fifth candle commemorating peace officers who were killed in the line of duty.
The memorial game between the Mayerthorpe Wranglers and a group of Alberta Mounties has been become an annual tradition in Mayerthorpe since the tragedy, but after the town’s arena was destroyed by a fire, the game moved to Edmonton.
“We had offers from all over, from many different arenas from the other communities nearby after the fire,” said Jurgen Preugschas, president of the Mayerthorpe Fallen Four Society.
“With the Edmonton Oilers being the town’s favourite NHL team, it was an easy choice for us when the offer from Northlands and the Oilers happened.”
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish played with the RCMP’s memorial team while assistant coach Charlie Huddy suited up for the Wranglers.
MacTavish elicited a few chuckles from fans as he helped a skating-challenged teammate score by dragging the player into the net with his stick.
“The support for the event is huge for us, but we don’t want to lose sight of those four fallen Mounties in addition with the loss of the arena,” said Preugschas. “This is Canada supporting a small town like Mayerthorpe.”
Grace Johnston, the mother of fallen Mountie Const. Leo Johnston, says the game is one of many events that has helped the community to “stick together” after the tragedy.
“It’s the thoughtfulness, the consideration, the remembrance that the people are putting their time into in this game,” she said.
Money raised from the game will fund a new rink in Mayerthorpe and improvements to the town’s Fallen Four Memorial Park.
Roszko took his own life after a gunfight with police that killed the fallen officers — constables Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston and Brock Myrol.
Shawn Hennessey and Dennis Cheeseman, who admitted to helping Roszko, were given 15 years and 12 years in prison, respectively.