NHLers sizzle in Kandahar

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

KANDAHAR -- Cpl. Joanne Lyster volunteered for a dangerous assignment yesterday, but could laugh about it afterward.

With only a few minutes' notice, she donned goaltending equipment in 26C afternoon tempertures to mop up for the Canadian Army's ball hockey team. They were in the midst of being slaughtered by a high-powered, highly motivated visiting NHL team in front of a few hundred armed forces personnel and chief of defence staff General Rick Hillier.

9-2 FOR THE PROS

Lyster, an MP from Edmonton, fared better than the male counterparts who opened the floodgates in the 9-2 loss, allowing just one goal.

"I had played net at Grant McEwen College a few years ago, but you don't play a lot of ice hockey here," Lyster said with a laugh. "The goalie that was supposed to play the third period didn't show. I was nervous at first, because I've never faced a shooter like Mike Gartner, but I made a couple of saves."

Lyster walked away with a Blue Rodeo CD in her catching mitt, from NHL recruit Jim Cuddy, though fellow guitarist and hockey enthusiast Greg Keelor twisted his ankle before sucking it up for an evening concert for the troops.

More than 100 men and women attended four tryouts for about 36 coveted spots to play Team Canada, which included Hall of Famer Gartner and two-time Cup champion Mark Napier. Air force Capt. Steve Jeffrys, of Fort Erie, also had a thrill, playing the second period for overheated ex-Leaf Mark LaForest.

EASY TUNE-UP

With Chris Nilan, Bob Probert, Troy Crowder and Stu Grimson here and not about to let their tough guy reputations slip in front of this audience, the NHLers had an easy tune-up for future games against select U.S. and Canadian teams.

For Trenton's Don Doyle, a civilian contractor working with the army and going a bit stir crazy here after five months, it was a memorable game.

"The most fun I've had since I came here, because hockey is the only form of entertainment for some of us," said Doyle. "I took out Napier with a hit, I had an assist, Stu Grimson gave me a hockey nickname, the Doyler, and TSN's Jennifer Hedger (here to host the games and the concert) called me the Doyler twice."


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