There’s no such thing as a Christmas break for hockey super fan Steven Guinther-Plank.
As usual, the Surrey man’s calendar is filled with plans to watch a number of minor games at local arenas, as December comes to a close and a new year begins.
“I’ve been invited to two tournaments that weekend (after Christmas) and a showcase, so it’s going to be a busy,” Guinther-Plank explained with a wide smile.
He watches games “five to seven times” a week, from peewee to junior league, Kamloops to Gibsons, but “probably double that” during tournaments.
A fixture on the local hockey scene, Guinther-Plank is known for his jet engine-loud voice and sheer enthusiasm for cheering on everyone.
“Good job all three officials – and scorekeeper and DJ, too!” he yelled Monday night at Sungod Arena during a game between Bantam rep teams from North Delta and Langley visitors.
“Good job whoever got that goal!” he hollered, moments after a reporter’s question distracted him from watching the home team score one, in a thrilling 4-3 win settled later, in the dying seconds.
Guinther-Plank’s green Jr. Steelers jersey, with “Broncos #1 Super Fan” printed on the back, offers a clue about some of his motivation to watch so many hockey games in recent years.
“I watched the Beaver Valley Nitehawks (of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League) in my hometown, Fruitvale – near Trail, up there,” he explained. “One of the players for that team, he was playing so good that he got called up by the Surrey Eagles, and then he got traded later, to the Humboldt Broncos, and he was one of the 16 (who died in a bus crash last spring).… Jaxon Joseph, yeah. I got to know him just a little bit, just watching him play, just cheering him on in Beaver Valley. He played so good that he was only there until January (of 2016), when Surrey called him up.
“That helps me motivate everybody out there,” Guinther-Plank continued, “because you never know when something like that can happen to anyone, right. And if you don’t cheer for that team before that, you kind of feel bad for it, so I just kind of, like, try to motivate everybody on the ice, including the officials.”
Guinther-Plank, 28, drives from game to game in his yellow Nissan Frontier, a truck he named “Bumblebee.”
When not out watching hockey, he’s studying to become an appliance repairman.
An impressively loud voice is something else he’s worked on.
“When I was younger I went to this native powwow, and they taught me how to tighten up your diaphragm and not yell out of your talking voice. It’s down deeper I guess, so I do that.”
With hand-written rosters, he keeps track of all the players on the ice, by jersey number.
“I’m just a longtime hockey fan and it’s fun seeing how much my yelling actually motivates them,” Guinther-Plank said. “I think it does. You can totally tell, and sometimes it distracts them a bit – like, they look up here but then they go score a goal after that, right.”
Over the years, players and parents have gotten to know Steven, the hockey super fan, and have given him gifts, including that green Jr. Steelers jersey.
“I watch rep games but I still cheer on house (teams), too,” he said, “because that was the tournament over in Gibsons, a peewee house tournament I saw.… One of the parents invited me, a kid who used to play on the Jr. Steelers out of Coquitlam, a spring team, and then they knew I was in the area and invited to the games.”
So, what’s his favourite team?
“I’d say all the younger teams, but the Vancouver Canucks are my favourite NHL team, but I can’t choose a younger team because it’s too hard to choose, because I just cheer all of them on.”