“Way to go Huddy.”
“Nice save Zachary.”
“Good goal whoever scored.”
Meet SuperFan Steve.
By day, Steve Guinther-Plank, 28, a native of Fruitvale, near Trail, is studying at Surrey’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University to be an appliance repairman.
By night and on weekends, Guinther-Plank morphs into his alter-ego, a man who loves cheering on hockey players in any arena he’s able to get to and at any age level. He even cheers for the officials. And scorekeepers. And the Zamboni driver.
The man with the powerful set of pipes, described by a Black Press reporter in an interview in Surrey as having a “jet engine voice,” started cheering in his hometown.
“I was cheering on the (Beaver Valley, Kootenay International Junior League) Nitehawks, my hometown team,” said Guinther-Plank at the 48th annual Vernon Winter Carnival Coca Cola Classic Pee Wee tournament at Kal Tire Place North, where he arrived Saturday.
“I cheered on everybody there and I saw how my cheers motivated everybody.”
It’s here, where the always upbeat, always positive Guinther-Plank turns a bit sombre.
One of the players he was cheering played only three months in Fruitvale before being called up to the B.C. Hockey League’s Surrey Eagles, then was traded to the Humboldt Broncos in Saskatchewan.
Jaxon Joseph was one of the 16 killed in the April 2018 Broncos’ bus tragedy.
“That made me feel if I didn’t cheer for everybody, that could happen to somebody else,” said Guinther-Plank, whose perkiness returns after the host Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs score a goal in Sunday’s C final against the St. Albert, Alberta Stars.
Guinther-Plank leaves the reporter and races to the bench, high-fiving the kids coming off the ice for the goal.
His connection to Vernon started when former Mustangs coach Taylor Wilson invited Guinther-Plank to come cheer them on in Trail, where the Mustangs were playing in a tournament.
A few months later, in 2018, Guinther-Plank drove to Vernon and spent the weekend at the Civic Arena, cheering on all eight teams in the Coca Cola Classic.
He was invited back this year and arrived in time Saturday to see the Mustangs win their only game of this year’s tournament, a 5-2 decision over the Yellowknife Wolfpack, who had been in Vernon the year before.
In fact, Guinther-Plank’s popularity is such there’s a half-page ad devoted to him in the Classic program, showing him laying on the ice in team pictures with the Wolfpack and teams from Edmonton, South Delta and the San Diego Saints.
The Saints first got wind of Guinther-Plank’s cheering at a tournament in Burnaby, where an older team was playing a squad from Nanaimo.
“A Nanaimo mom was filming her son and I could be heard cheering on the video, ‘Welcome to Canada, eh,’” laughed Guinther-Plank, who got a copy of the video and posted it on his Instagram (SGP_hawks_super_fan) and Twitter (@Guinther-Plank) accounts.
“The San Diego team saw this, got a hold of me and flew me from Seattle to Colorado, where they were playing in a tournament, to cheer them on.”
Growing up in Salmo, where there was no ice rink to play hockey, Guinther-Plank instead raced at the local ski hill. But cheering on hockey players has become his passion. He loves the Vernon tournament.
“I’ll be back next year, for sure,” he said. “I miss the Civic (Arena).”