Nostalgia will be in the air when the Truro Bearcats host the Yarmouth Mariners tomorrow.
The encounter represents the Bearcats final home game ever at Colchester Legion Stadium and, as such, represents the end of an era, one which has produced many exciting moments during the past 45 years.
Good quality junior hockey arrived at the then three-year-old stadium in 1968 when the Bearcats first iced a team in the Metro Valley Junior Hockey League (the Maritime league’s forerunner) and they were an instant success, both on the ice and at the box office.
With coach Hugh Matheson behind the bench and led by locals stars such as Jim Cumming, Randy Crowell, Robbie Cooke, Albert Gamble, Don Cormier, Mike Henderson and goalie Denny Gostick, Truro would capture five league titles in eight seasons.
They were our ‘hometown heroes’ and those teams are still talked about with fondness by those who saw them play.
In time, rival squads began stocking up with imports and the Bearcats couldn’t keep pace. Early in the 1982-83 season, with the losses piling up, the plugged was pulled and junior hockey disappeared from the local scene until 1997-98.
This new era has also been filled with plenty of on-ice success including championships in 2005 and 2007 under the direction of coach Shawn Evans.
Notable graduates include Stephen Horyl, Dana Fraser, Jon Reid, T.J. Smith, Zach Sill and three who reached the NHL – Andrew MacDonald, David Brine and netminder Matt Climie.
But times change and large junior hockey crowds in Truro have been more the exception than the rule in recent years. The reasons (excuses?) are many. Hockey aplenty on television, major junior hockey an hour away in Halifax and the old stadium, for some, isn’t the most comfortable way to spend a Saturday night, even after the improvements that were made a couple of years ago.
We’re hopeful some of that oldtime ‘root for the home team’ community spirit returns when the Bearcats move to the dazzling new Rath EastLink Community Centre eight days from now.
And if the new building comes close to capturing some of the excitement seen at Colchester Legion Stadium over the years, hockey night at the RECC could be a lot of fun.