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- The Recap: Game 5 – ECQF: Rangers vs. Habs
- The Recency Bias: Round 1 – Game 5
- What Just Happened? Rangers top Habs 3-2 in OT
- The Forum: The First Round… So Far
As Told By The Players: Donnie Augustine, a #Warrior living the dream
- Updated: March 5, 2016
These “As Told By The Players” articles are stories written by the LNAH players who tell them. Each story will be left in its original language, and with as little editing as possible. Therefore, the reader should expect some coarse language.
I don’t consider myself a good fighter or even really a good hockey player.
But I do love the game and understand the importance of each role a player has. You’ve got your grinders,snipers, work horses and race horses. Then you’ve got your enforcers, probably the most underrated and overlooked job in hockey. Night in and night out we drop our gloves to entertain the crowd, putting our bodies and personal health on the line to get our team fired up, whether it be to change momentum or to set the tone.
At 23 years old I’m an enforcer in the LNAH for the Rivière-du-Loup 3L. I was given my first and only chance to play semi pro hockey by the 3L‘s GM Karl Boucher. He had seen my fight videos from playing senior A back home in new Brunswick for my hometown Elsipogtog; a good-sized reserve just outside of Rexton, N.B. with a passion for the game of hockey.
I wasn’t always a fighter. Growing up, I played decent hockey but in the back of my mind I always knew that if I wanted to make it to the next level, I’d have to swallow my pride and do what alot of guys had done in their careers, and that’s become a tough guy, a #Warrior. I never fought much growing up, as I would get in trouble if I did and my mother would ground me, so whenever someone did try I’d just let them hit me and never reacted. The older I got, the tougher I got I guess; because I started to think their punches were funny it didn’t hurt and the look people get when they hit you with all they’ve got and you’re still standing there with a smile on your face is priceless.
My first game in the LNAH was against the Jonquière Marquis. I’ll never forget that day. I was so nervous I never got any sleep that night. I stayed up all night packing and watching videos of potential opponents. We had arrived in RDL with a few hours to kill so we went to Walmart and got some food, then went to the rink to meet and get comfortable. The first person I met was the equipment manager Charlie Dubé, who has been a good friend since day one and works hard for the team night in and night out. You’re the man Charlie.
Getting ready to play I remember sitting there looking around the room thinking to myself: “these fucking guys all played pro what the fuck am I even doing here?”. During warm up I was stretching by the red line watching the other team skate around. Right away, I recognize Gaby Roch from all the YouTube videos I used to watch as a teen. That guy even looks tough as shit even though he’s not the biggest guy. You can just tell that guy can go.
So I’m stretching at the red line and Sean McMorrow is stretching too. Sean is a pretty big guy, very tall. He’s been doing the job for a very long time and talks with a tone that demands respect. He’s got two black eyes, asking me if it’s my first game and where I was from. We agree to have a go and I’m thinking: “no turning back now Don, win or lose it’s still a win for you, ain’t nobody doing what you do back home on the rez”. We ended up dropping the gloves at around ten minutes into the first period, and we have the most intense fight I’ve been in to this day.
Normally Sean doesn’t go open but that night I guess he was in the mood to lay a beating on a rookie lol. He cut me open on my nose and landed about five solid cracks to my face before I said to myself: “what the fuck are you doing swing back!”. So I swing back and make a fight out of it. I landed a few but had blood in my eyes so I couldn’t see what was going on. He ties me up and then starts unloading a flurry of uppercuts but none land.
Video: Montage Tigalop
He tells me “good fight!” after the scrap and the ref tells me to go to the room because I’m bleeding. I’m bloody, bruised up with welts on my head but I’m happy. A smile from ear to ear. I’ll never forget Jean Phillipe Dionne telling me “you’re the only guy I seen come off the ice all bloody smiling and laughing… just living the dream eh, kid?”
Alot of people think we’re crazy for doing this job, but we’re human too; we have bills and children to provide for and this is my way of being able to support my two daughters who are 2 and 1 years old. A little extreme and a career choice that obviously won’t last for life, but fun and does the trick for now nonetheless.
Sean McMorrow is now one of my good friends and taught me that fighting is all about confidence: if you’re confident in your abilities then there’s no way you’re gonna lose.
“An average hockey fight lasts roughly 30 seconds”… is what I’d say if we played in any other league in the world. But we don’t. 45 seconds to a minute is how long they last in our league. Absolute war on most occasions.
We play in the LNAH, the toughest league in the world. Many fighters have their own reasons for doing what we do. For me it’s getting the boys fired up after a bad goal or waking up the crowd. For me it’s the rush, the roller coaster of emotions from “nervous as fuck” to “happy as can be”.
The moment you look at your opponent and the gloves fly off, it’s as if time stands still; I don’t hear the crowd, I don’t see refs or players, it’s me and another man going to war; the square off is exciting yet dangerous. One hit can make your night or break it. But for those 45 seconds you are absolutely free, nothing in the world matters.
Video: Marc Desforges
That speeding ticket you got? Your baby’s mother blowing up your phone? Or that bad play you made in the corner?
All don’t matter in that intense moment.
Donnie Augustine, forward and #Warrior for the Rivière-du-Loup 3L.
Ryan Murphy’s NHL