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Banff Bears have heartfelt victory amid tragedy

"I don’t think there are too many people who are unaffected right now."

BANFF – The Banff Bears played with heavy hearts in their 47-26 victory against the Calgary Knights on Saturday (Aug. 6).

A tragedy in town less than 48 hours before kick off occurred with the untimely death of Ethan Enns-Goneau, a long-time Banff resident, which has weighed on the community, and the men’s rugby team.

“Half our team grew up here and are his age, so it definitely hit the boys pretty hard,” said Bears head coach Lee Garrett. “Ethan was at all our homes games, I would always see his face on the sideline and his best mate is on the team. I interacted with him a lot, for sure, like everyone else. ... I don’t think there are too many people who are unaffected right now.”

The 26-year-old was well-known in the community. In high school, Enns-Goneau played rugby at Banff Community High School.

“Whether he played men’s or high school, we still see those players as part of our club because a lot of coaching comes from our club," said Garrett.

An RCMP investigation into the death of Enns-Goneau is ongoing.

Police responded to a stabbing incident at the Dancing Sasquatch early Friday morning. Enns-Goneau was rushed to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, but passed away shortly after. John-Christopher Arrizza, a 22-year-old from Banff, has been charged with second-degree murder.

The tragic incident has been a total shock for the small community – and playing sports so close to it was the last thing on people’s minds.

“We didn’t start the game particularly well, obviously there has been a lot of emotion in the community," said Garrett. “It was a tight game in the first half and we kind of changed the game plan a little bit.”

Three penalty tries were awarded in the match in Calgary – one for the Knights and two for the Bears.

Once the Bears settled their minds and found their footing, they were able to run away with a win. The team sits second in the league standings with two regular season games remaining.

Athletically, the team will look to refine skills this month leading into playoffs later this month.

“We have a great problem to have; I’ve got depth this season,” said Garrett. “Once we keep testing these players in positions and work out what’s working best and go from there.”

As the team makes a push for the finals, they mourn a familiar face from the sidelines.

“With rugby itself, it’s one of those things. [Bears captain] Frank [Dwyer] said it the other game, once a rugger, always a rugger,” said Garrett.

Banff’s next match-up is Saturday (Aug. 13) against the Titans in Red Deer.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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