IceCaps Insider: Yes B’y! Posted by IceCaps on
Newfoundland culture influences IceCaps on and off the ice
Chris Ballard – IceCaps Insider
While on the ice and in the public eye, the St. John’s IceCaps are known as Newfoundland and Labrador’s team and proudly represent the province’s hockey-crazy population on the American Hockey League stage and beyond.
Off the ice and in their free time, they are simply a group of talented young men whose career paths have collided on a sheet of ice on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador may not have initially been on the radar of these young players as they set about on their respective hockey journeys. But they grew together as a team and embraced the culture of their new hometown, even if, at one time, some couldn’t point it out on a map.
“When I first learned I was coming here to play, I asked ‘Isn’t that in New Brunswick?’” admitted goaltender Eddie Pasquale, who has been an IceCaps mainstay since their inaugural season in 2010-11.
“Then I talked to some people who told me I was going to some island. Coming from Chicago, it was really different for me but it’s a good community here. Everyone is really nice and it’s like a second home for me. I’m happy to play here.”
Playing hockey and living in the same community together has had an impact on the identity of the IceCaps team both on and off the ice, a point which is represented by a simple Newfoundland phrase that has been embraced by the players and has become their unofficial team motto.
The oh-so-common phrase is short and sweet and easy for a group of mainlanders to use and support. It has seemingly taken over the team’s locker room culture, as calls can be heard echoing through the lower concourse as the team prepares for games and practices. The phrase is popular as a hashtag on Twitter and has even found a permanent home on the back of Pasquale’s goalie mask.
“The guys say a lot of stuff in the dressing room and I liked it,” he said.
“I thought I would put it on my mask, almost as a way to give back to the fans and the community that’s behind us.”
IceCaps forward Carl Klingberg considers himself a Newfoundlander and is often heard spewing Newfoundland sayings as he enters the dressing room. Even though he grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden, a day’s travel away from St. John’s, he considers himself one of the b’ys.
“I do feel like a Newfoundlander,” he said.
“I just heard the slang words getting around and thought it would be fun to drop it in hashtags sometimes. It’s definitely a fun thing to say. When you talk to people from here, everyone’s saying ‘b’y’ and it’s fun to say it back.”
Behind the slinging of the local phrases lies a deep-rooted appreciation of the town and its fan base. IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray and his family have been enjoying the sights and sounds of Newfoundland culture since 2011 and he admits that it’s the tastes that have stood out the most.
“I like the places to eat,” he said with a grin.
“There are some good places to eat in St. John’s. I like that there aren’t any big chain restaurants in the downtown area. There are so many places on Water Street, the restaurants and the mom and pop bakeries. There are so many little good places.”
While he has yet to try a touton, Jaffray has done his best to sample all the local delicacies, some of which were less than appetizing.
“I have had cod tongues,” he said.
“My father-in-law came down and we had them together. It’s not my favourite but I was one of the few in the family that did eat them. I have had jiggs dinner too. I played at the Greensleeves golf tournament and they fed us jiggs dinner with the salt beef and all the trimmings. It was good.”
— Carl Klingberg (@CarlKlingberg) March 9, 2014
Members of the IceCaps come from all corners of the globe and while many of them are pursuing their hockey dreams away from their friends and family, they have found a new home in St. John’s.
“Newfoundland is more like Sweden than anywhere else in Canada,” Klingberg said.
“It’s kind of Irish, it’s right by the sea and people love hockey. It’s more laid back and the same thing in Sweden. It’s like, I feel like when I’m coming home. I’m coming into some kind of Canadian Irish Swedish village. It’s a great feeling.”