Burton 40: Bernie Koth-Kappus
'Aw, come on, Bernie!' The plaintive cry heard from many a Burton Hockey player for ten seasons. Did he wait until the last second to put his gear on? Did he just spend half-an-hour trying to get his brother Oliver out of bed so they can get to the session? Did he just take his skates off in the middle of a sub switch? Oh, the fun never stops with Bernie Koth-Kappus.
Listen; you can argue about whether he's motivated all the time. Or if he even shows interest in the game he's playing in. Or how how professes not to care about stats only to yell out 'Assist!' everytime he's within five feet of a goal (don't even get us started on 'bench assists'). Or the scorchingly dry sarcasm that punctuates his nearly every sentence. When it comes down to it, from Day One, Bernie Koth-Kappus has always been there for Burton Hockey. Together, he and Oliver are the twin towers of Burton, dwarfing the games played of even the most dedicated originals.
Burton Hockey is essentially a fusion of the Burton School courtyard games with the informal games in Glenbank. Hailing from a rustic log cabin in the backwoods of neighbouring Brouse (that's not artistic licence, that's actually how he grew up), Bernie was one of the core from that group. It was he, Oliver, Seamus O'Connor and Lee Orr who came down to the Fauquier Hall during the Christmas of 1999 to bring the two streams together and create a onrushing tide of valley-wide roller hockey, eventually to cover the entire province.
Bernie has been omnipresent ever since. He played an astounding 196 games that first season of 2000, missing just one session. At first look, it seemed a bit surreal: a large man on skates regularly for the first time since Grade 5, wearing a lime green helmet (the Koopa Troopa) that had no chinstrap and routinely fell over his face, homemade improvised ass padding affixed to his shorts in a futile attempt to cushion the blows of five-to-six wipeouts a session; marvelling about the supposed comfort of his new blades that featured 'soft-boot technology' that would still make his feet sore about a game-and-a-half into a session. And we wouldn't have it any other way. Bernhart Perry Mulgrave is an icon, an only-in-Burton legend. Yes, we've given him the Bitch Award on multiple occasions. But we do it in fun, knowing damn well we would not have Burton Hockey without him. When Joern Hornhardt left for the Lower Mainland, Bernie took the reigns and organised the wildly successful 2003 and 2004 seasons. And it was Bernie's move to Vancouver that brought about Vancouver Roller Hockey, where he is easily the all-time games played leader. He took up organising again this year and helped continue the VRH boom.
Bernie has comparatively flourished at Ambleside, where the smaller rink is more amenable to his walk-stomp skating style (he skates like he drives: he's either doing 120 or 70, no middle ground). Bernie's hands do the talking for him; when he's focused, he has laser precision on net. Put Bernie on a line with a strong skater and the guy is money. The difference between the Bernie that came into Burton Hockey and the Bernie of today is incredible. He's one of the very few players to reach 1,000 points. He's the only player with 500 BUSH and 300 VRH games. He's a pinnacle of dedication. He's an entirely outlandish, unique personality; hilarious, aggravating, friendly all at once. Bernie Koth-Kappus can never be thanked enough for his contributions to Burton Hockey, and those contributions will continue to come for years, we're certain (just as we're certain his beloved Avs will choke their way out of a playoff spot and his allegiance will 'magically' shift to the Penguins for the rest of the season). He's one of the beloved brothers of Brouse, and one of the Burton 40.
Awards: Ironman of the Year - 2003, 2004; 2nd All-Star - 2001, 2002; Most Dedicated Team - 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.
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Ben de Wit