Good time had by all

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

SELKIRK -- They made quite a pair, standing side-by-side along the blue-line for O Canada -- 69-year-old Ab McDonald, the first captain of the Winnipeg Jets, and 14-year-old Juno nominee and blues wunderkind, Jimmy Bowskill. It was that kind of night at the Selkirk Recreation Complex yesterday, a diverse crowd of musicians and retired hockey stars playing the game that binds Canadians of all ages, from coast to coast.

They might not be handing out the Stanley Cup this year, but the sellout crowd of some 2,200 that jammed the arena couldn't have cared less.

Whether they came to see guitar heroes or hockey heroes, they cheered every goal, every save, even the odd collision, in the second annual Juno Cup.

And the crowd was as diverse as the teams.

Jeff Knight, 13, of Selkirk, came to see the band members of Billy Talent, nominated for single, album and group of the year.

"I'm cheering for the musicians," Knight said. "They're the underdogs. No one expects them to win."

A few feet away, 69-year-old Don Armstrong of Winnipeg was thrilled to watch former NHL stars like Toronto Maple Leafs alumni Doug Gilmour, three-time Stanley Cup winner Mike Keane of Winnipeg and ex-Jets like Dave Babych, Dale Hawerchuk and Scott Arniel.

"I'd forgotten about Brad Dalgarno," Armstrong said, pointing to the former New York Islander.

Come to think of it, was there that much to remember about Brad Dalgarno?

"There wasn't, no," Armstrong admitted.

Armstrong was hip enough to realize there were a couple members of The Tragically Hip in the game. He even confessed to rocking to the occasional song by the band, who'll be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame this weekend.

"I like the guy in goal here, too," he said, nodding toward Alan Doyle of the band Great Big Sea.

You like his music?

"Just the way he's playing goal."

Doyle was the star of the show early on, looking as comfortable holding a goal stick as he does a microphone.

Cassie Cheslock, a 14-year-old from St. Andrews, and her friend, Nysa Langevin of Selkirk, came to see Juno awards show host Brent Butt, the Corner Gas star who played goal for the NHLers.

"It's so cool to see so many different people playing against each other," Cheslock said.

The game, won 6-5 by the NHLers, serves as a fundraiser for school music programs, a cause obviously dear to the hearts of the artists.

STORYTELLER: Singer, songwriter, and part-time goalie David Francey's story has to be one of the more interesting ones we've heard this week.

Moving from Scotland to Toronto when he was 12, Francey, now 50, worked as a carpenter until just a few years ago.

His fiancee finally convinced him to finish one of his many partially written songs for her, and next thing he knew he had a record deal and was selling CDs.

How good is he as a songwriter?

Texas roots rocker Steve Earle once told him, "Man, your music kicks ass," while his song, Skating Rink, is a favourite of Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean.

Even though he's still learning to play guitar, Francey last year won his first Juno Award for best roots and traditional album, the same one he's up for this weekend.

As for his puck-stopping skills, they were honed when his mom used to roll socks up into balls and throw them at him while she did the laundry.


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