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Estevan Bruins salute long-time billet family before Monday’s game

Melodye Pierson and her husband Bert first started billeting Bruin players in 1979.

ESTEVAN - The Estevan Bruins saluted one of their longest-serving billet families and dedicated supporters prior to Monday night’s 6-2 victory over the Red Lake Miners at the 2022 Centennial Cup national junior A hockey championship, presented by Tim Hortons.

A tribute was read out for Melodye Pierson, and she performed the ceremonial face-off before the contest.

Pierson, along with her late husband Bert, opened their doors to Bruin players for the first time in 1979. From that point on, it wasn’t unusual for up to four Bruins to be living in the Pierson household at a given time.

Russell Mantei, who is the Bruins’ public address announcer, noted that every year, players would experience her excellent home cooking while also working on their skills playing against the Piersons’ two sons, Jeff and Brad. Both Jeff and Brad Pierson have been avid supporters of the Bruins over the years.

Melodye and Bert Pierson’s commitment to the Bruins did not end with billeting. They spent years volunteering at the rink, and ensuring out-of-town parents had rooms at their family-run hotel – the Beefeater Inn/The Days Inn.

Their household became known for the always popular post-game “Hot Stove.” After Bruins’ home games, parents, billets, players, staff and fans were welcome for an evening of hockey talk, fresh beverages and her famed cheese and bacon buns.

Forty-three years later, she continues to create new and memorable relationships by providing a comfortable home for 17-21-year-old players pursuing their hockey dreams.

Melodye Pierson was accompanied on the ice by her sons, and two of her early billets: Alan May and Paul Graveline, who both now reside in the U.S. They and their families continue to stay in touch with the Piersons, even vacationing together in Minnesota from time to time.

The Estevan Bruins and the Estevan Bruins Alumni Association presented her with a commemorative Centennial Cup Bruin jersey, which has been signed by those players who have lived with and become a part of the Pierson family over the years. The jersey has "Mel & Bert" on the back and the number 22 in honour of this year's Centennial Cup. 

The fans in attendance gave her a lengthy ovation in recognition for her service.

Pierson is not the only person the Bruins have recognized during the tournament. Prior to Saturday’s game against the Pickering Panthers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Black and Gold recognized the achievements of the late Adrian Sakundiak, who is among the top players in Bruin history.

Sakundiak was part of the Bruins’ team that won the SJHL championship in 1985, and he continues to hold a number of single-season franchise records, including most goals and points in a season.

He passed away in 2020 after fighting brain cancer.

Members of the Sakundiak family participated in the ceremonial opening faceoff before the Pickering game.