The day Dave Cameron saved my life

dave-cameron.jpeg

by Tieja MacLaughlin

It sounds rather heroic – a straight-shooter like Dave Cameron saving a young reporter like me from the stranglehold of death.

Alright, it may not exactly have been that dramatic.

But it was courageous nonetheless.

It was a cold winter night. The kind of cold good for two things: snuggling up with your hunnie, or watching hockey. I was at the Kitchener Auditorium, for the latter of course. The IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) had staked out the facility for an exhibition game prior to the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, NY. Team Canada and Team Finland were slated for a pre-competition tune-up and I couldn’t miss it.

I contacted my good friends at Open Ice Hockey and we arranged to collect some interviews with the players and compile a few features. This was particularly exciting for me, as it would be the first time my reporting was done on camera.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. A good nervous though, more like butterflies in the stomach.

The game went on and the building was absolutely electric, probably the loudest I have ever heard it. Red and white decor, Canadian flags and noisemakers flooded the place.

Naturally, the victorious Canadian players and team staff were overwhelmed by media at the game’s end. I remember my first real experience in a ‘scrum’. The last time I was in a scrum was with my 9th grade rugby team. I didn’t know what to do. But I made it out alive.

I remember wanting to interview every single person, player, coach or staff affiliated with the team. This was so surreal to me, this was Team frickin’ Canada!

We must have been there forever, waning out the crowds. As we finished up with Team Canada, we decided to venture over to Finnish territory to catch-up with a few of their players.

Now, for everyone that is familiar with The Aud, you know that typically both the home and visiting teams are accessible on the same side of the arena.

But on this particular occasion, the visitors took a dressing area on the opposite side of the rink. Meaning we had to get to the other side. A pretty easy task, you would think.

Not the case.

I’m still unsure of who suggested it, but one of the fine gents I was working with thought it would be much easier to just cut across the ice as opposed to dodging all the intricate blockades and walking around the concourse. I mean, we had pretty much closed the place down - there were no fans in the stands, so why not?

Keep in mind this was my first on-screen gig, so I was dressed to the nine’s prepared to record my stand-up. I’m talking pant suit, kitten heels and camera-ready make-up and hair.

I latched on to my cameraman’s arm as we made our way across the ice. Now that the fans had left, the players had taken to the suites for a bite to eat and a meet-and-greet with their families. So we had a bit of an audience.

Inch by inch (in my heels) I made my way, I was rather proud of myself at how far I had gone without flinching. I got too confident.

Rookie mistake.

I must have been three feet from the opposite boards; three feet from safety. Just as I took my next step I felt it, I was slipping.

Fudgsicles.

Everything kind of went slow-mo from here. What was worse than the embarrassment of the situation was the legitimate fear that I could get seriously injured here. I was headed straight backwards, teed up for what I was only imagining to be my skull cracking against the sheet of ice.

I couldn’t pull the camera guy down with me; he was holding thousands of dollars worth of equipment. He valiantly tried to help me catch my footing, but it wasn’t happening…then up behind me came a set of helping hands.

As the anonymous man lifted me up, I swept my hair away from my face and I recognized him. I had fallen into the arms of Team Canada’s head coach, Dave Cameron. It was like a scene from a movie. Where had he even come from?!

He assisted me to the bench and assured I was OK. The guys were sharing a couple laughs. Me? I was stunned shocked.

We did find the Finnish players and I did finish my stand-up but my-oh-my, the most memorable moment was without a doubt Dave Cameron in his hero’s cape. Thanks Dave. I owe you.

Tieja MacLaughlin