For almost four decades, Estevan Bruins players, parents, and staff were welcome at the home of Mel and Bert Pierson. They opened their home to countless Bruins players over that time, frequently hosted team events, and were fixtures in the hockey community in Estevan.
On Monday, January 14, that magical, decades-long run came to an end when Bert died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Estevan. He was 77 years old.
For the Bruins, the loss of Pierson represents the loss of a surogate family member. For all Bruins, both players and coaches, the Pierson house had long been a place of great comfort.
"Bert was a tremendous man," said Bruins head coach and GM Chris Lewgood. "That's the kind of community person we all strive to be. He and his wife Melodye have been a little bit of everything for the Bruins."
Bert's two sons, Jeff and Brad, have been staunch supporters of the team throughout the 2018-10 season and in years prior. His grandson, Ryder, is a current member of the team in his rookie season.
The Piersons have billeted numerous members of the Bruins teams over their years in Estevan, and not only players but staff have known they were welcome in that home.
"Moving here six years ago, they literally opened their home up to me," Lewgood recalls. "They gave me the option to stay there. Countless players have gone through there, had their lives touched by these people, and Bert was just such a gentle soul. One of the kindest people you'd ever meet."
Whether the Bruins were celebrating a victory or licking their wounds after a loss, Mel and Bert frequently opened their home up to players and parents alike after home games, making it an almost unofficial team meeting place.
"It's widely known as the billet place," Lewgood said of the Pierson household. "They're such charasmatic people, and even in his failing health Bert was one of the most pleasant people you could be around, always a smile on his face. You never had an empty glass with Bert around, he was always quick to top you up. He did so because he wanted you to be comfortable and he wanted your company."
Following the funeral on January 19, and prior to the game against Weyburn that night, the Bruins honoured Pierson with a moment of silence.