Eric Brewer during his time as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He will be in Ashcroft for a public presentation on May 29. Photo: Michael Miller

NHL star Eric Brewer to return to Ashcroft for public event

Olympic gold medallist and former Ashcroft resident comes back to his roots

Spend an afternoon with former NHL All-Star, gold medal winner, and BC Sports Hall of Fame inductee Eric Brewer, who will be in Ashcroft on Wednesday, May 29 to speak with students at Desert Sands Community School and then give a presentation that is open to all members of the public.

Brewer, who was born in Vernon, was raised in Ashcroft, and played hockey in the Ashcroft Minor Hockey Program until moving to Kamloops when he was 14. He excelled as a member of the Kamloops Bantam AAA Jardine Blazers, and in 1994, aged 15, was drafted by the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. He began his WHL career in the 1995-96 season, and was named the Cougars’ Rookie of the Year.

In 1997 Brewer was drafted fifth overall, by the New York Islanders, in the NHL Entry Draft. It began a lengthy career in the NHL, during which time Brewer played with the Islanders, Edmonton, St. Louis (where he became the team’s 19th captain), Tampa Bay, Anaheim, and Toronto, with whom he made his final NHL appearance in 2015.

Brewer’s return to Ashcroft will mark the first public appearance he has made in the community. His visit is being hosted by the People of Pukaist, and the organization’s Cheryl Billy has fond memories of Brewer, who played hockey in Ashcroft alongside her younger brother Shane (“Eric was a good, humble kid.”).

She says that Brewer will meet individually with elementary classes at Desert Sands before his public presentation, which starts at 1 p.m.

“He plans to talk about his life growing up in a small town, and what it was like to then make it into the NHL in a short time,” says Billy. “He’s going to focus on the discipline necessary to make it in the big league.

“His parents stressed the importance of school, fitness, and sports. Life is pretty structured once you’re in the NHL. And he’s going to talk about life after retirement.”

Billy adds that there will be a lengthy question-and-answer session after the presentation.

“We expect there will be a lot of questions. He hasn’t been back here in a long time.” The People of Pukaist also intend to invite Brewer’s former coaches Carl Minnabarriet and Ray Chenier, as well as some of his former teachers, to take part in the event, and there will be a chance for autographs and photos.

Billy says that Brewer will be bringing his Olympic gold medal, won during the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, to the event, which is free. For more information, contact Cheryl Billy at or by phone at (250) 457-9314.

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