Juno Cup 2023: Musicians win 4-3 over athletes

A group of Canadian hockey stars took on Juno-nominated musicians in Edmonton Sunday, with the artists winning 4-3.

The hockey tournament pits the two teams against one another to support MusicCounts, a Canadian music charity. For those taking part, combining beloved musicians with the country’s favourite sport is a perfect Canadian celebration.

Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy played hockey throughout school but stopped once he became a musician. Now he competes in a musician league.

“Each group wishes they were the other group, certainly musicians,” Cuddy said.

When it comes to the match, Cuddy described it as a bit of a “David and Goliath ordeal.”

“Some of these guys have only been retired for three or four years, so we have to tread lightly,” he added.

James Preistner played in the WHL for five seasons as a goalie. Now he is part of the Rare Americans, nominated for the Breakthrough Group of the Year Juno.

While he hasn’t put the pads on for a few years, he hoped before the game that his skills would come back like riding a bike.

“It’s just going to be remembering as the game goes on,” he said. “All the things I was taught as a kid.”

“Warmup went better than I expected,” he added. “Keep my feet moving, watch the puck and hopefully make a few good saves.”

In his view, the two career paths have many similarities, from constantly being on the road to the grind of recording music or training in the off-season.

“Both are more than just a job,” Preistner told CTV News Edmonton. “You have to be all in.”

“It never stops. For both, you need a real good work ethic and some sort of obsession to the craft.”

The musician team was coached by one-half of the brother-sister Canadian country duo The Reklaws. Stuart Walker, who is recovering from an Achilles injury, said he planned to still do his part by intimidating the hockey stars.

“I’m just going to haze the other team,” Stuart explained. “They are a bunch of ex-athletes and real athletes, and I’m going to make them feel like they are not.

“I’m also bigger than most of them,” he added with a laugh.

Former Edmonton Oilers right winger Fernando Pisani takes to the ice during the Juno Cup (CTV News Edmonton/Sean McClune).

The Reklaws lead country nominees with three nods, including Group of the Year. For two years, one of their songs, Roots, was featured in World Juniors coverage.

“A lot of hockey fans became Reklaws fans because of that song, so we feel very attached to the sport,” Stuart added.

“Music and sports come hand in hand,” echoed Jenna Walker. “Everyone is looking for that song, a Thursday night football jam or Friday night hockey pump-up.”

Canadian country stars The Reklaws speak with CTV News Edmonton ahead of the Juno Cup (CTV News Edmonton/Sean McClune).

Former Edmonton Oilers netminder Ben Scrivens said he was honoured to get the call to play in the game.

“I am a big music fan,” Scrivens said. “To be playing with so many talented people is super fun.”

Ben Scrivens talks with CTV News Edmonton at the Juno Cup (CTV News Edmonton/Sean McClune).

In his view, music and hockey are inseparable, with many players throughout his career relying on tunes played by locker room DJs to set the mood before and after games and music helping fuel passionate crowds in the stands.

“For us, as former NHL players, to support a vibrant music scene that we have in Canada and to do that through hockey, to combine music and sport, feels like a no-brainer,” he added.

“It is really difficult to separate hockey from music, and all that surrounds it… “It’s quintessential Canadiana.” 

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