Prince George Cougars Bus Driver/Photographer (Since 1999)
Q: Tell us about some of your favorite Cougar memories?
RP: Wow. There are so many. My favorite games at home have been some of the Teddy Bear Tosses, but I’ll always remember a time in Everett (in 2007) during the playoffs when I arrived at the rink late in the third period of Game 5. The man at the gate told me “Everett’s winning 3-1” but when I arrived at my spot by the glass I looked up and saw that the score was now 3-2. Next thing you know, I look up and it’s 3-3 with about about half a period still left. A few minutes later Chris Durand scored on a power play and we won the game 4-3 and then came back home and won the series. But honestly, some of my real favorite memories have come off the ice. Sure we’ve won games we maybe should have lost, and lost games we should have won, but I’m so proud to be a part of this organization and to see the people behind the scenes like Chico, Craig, yourself Dan, the coaches, the management, all of the players and everybody who does their part to make this city proud. That right there is what makes the Cougars so special to me.
Q: Tell us about some of the special bonds and memories that you have with some of the players from the past?
RP: There are so many players that stand out to me. I’ll always remember a young Dan Hamhuis coming to the front of the bus to keep me company because he liked to watch the snow fall. Dustin Byfuglien was always a real character, joking around with the guys. Guys like Greg Gardner, Dana Tyrell and Brett Dickie were just so nice and respectful. And then I think about Billy Thompson who billeted at my house in Prince George for a season and a half. He was a great guy and I got to attend his wedding in Kelowna recently. Chris Falloon was another one who invited me to his wedding. There are so many players that I’ll remember fondly because they were all character people.
Q: What in your mind is the toughest stretch of highway to travel?
RP: Well Highway 97 heading South to Vancouver can be quite a challenge. Some of the toughest conditions though I would say take place in the Prairies. I remember drives between Brandon and Regina where the snow drifts are so high and the wind is so strong that it almost feels like you’re driving on a cloud. I’ve had to deal with all sorts of road closures that have altered our plans and our arrival times, and the other really tough one is when I have to drive from Seattle to Spokane or Tri-City – The Snoqualmie Pass can be very slippery.
Q: What is your favorite WHL City to visit once the driving is done?
RP: I really like Spokane. It’s a fun city with a great landscape, Gonzaga University and a river streaming right through the heart of the city. Edmonton is another one of my favorites but that’s because my parents and my brother live there and it’s always nice to see them. I also enjoy heading East to the Prairies because we only get to do that trip once every two years. It’s fun to walk around Saskatoon, or check out the Moose Jaw tunnels, as long as it’s not too cold!
Q: Rumor has it you’re quite a golfer and also a heck of a cook. What’s your favorite meal to prepare for a group of people after a great day on the golf course?
RP: Well the ‘great golfer’ part is just a rumor, haha! But I really do enjoy cooking. My cooking menu is somewhat limited but I love to prepare spaghetti, meatballs, lasagna, and steak. I don’t keep salt and pepper on my table because the food is already seasoned perfectly, and you will never find any mustard on my table! Oh and one other rule: All of the food must go! That’s the Italian rule.
Sure we’ve won games we maybe should have lost, and lost games we should have won, but I’m so proud to be a part of this organization and to see the people behind the scenes like Chico, Craig, yourself Dan, the coaches, the management, all of the players and everybody who does their part to make this city proud. That right there is what makes the Cougars so special to me. – RALPH POSTERARO