TRURO – Truro Bearcats captain Travis Moore grew up dreaming of one day playing for the junior A hockey club.
In those dreams, the 20-year-old Lower Onslow resident always pictured himself skating on Colchester Legion Stadium ice, the Bearcats’ home since returning to the MHL in 1997-98.
That vision is about to change for the next generation of Bearcats wannabes, as the team plays its final game in the 48-year old building Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when the Yarmouth Mariners come to town.
“I’ve always driven to the stadium in town,” the six-foot-two, 200-pound Moore said. “To keep driving past the exit and up to the new rink is going to be an adjustment, a different feeling. But at the same time it’s exciting.”
The Bearcats have already started their move to the RECC. Their championship banners from 2004-05 and 2006-07 no longer hang above the stadium ice and their logo has been removed from their dressing room door. The team has been practicing in the new $48-million arena all week, leaving Saturday’s tilt as the final time they’ll skate at the stadium.
It will mark the end of an era in Colchester County’s junior hockey history. The stadium has been the scene of countless memories, good and bad, for both players and fans since the first Bearcats team joined the Metro Valley Junior Hockey League in 1968-69. The team competed on the circuit until it folded mid season in 1982-83.
Brookfield’s Mike Henderson served as captain of the 1973-74 champion Bearcats, and also wore the C in his final year of 1974-75, and said he enjoyed every minute of competing in the Lorne Street arena.
“In the years I played we had terrific crowds,” the 58-year-old, who started with the 1971-72 championship team, said. “We would have 2,000 people in there in the playoffs and regularly had 800 to 900 fans.”
“Everybody in the building knew someone on the ice,” he added. “It was a great building to play in.”
The atmosphere should be just as intense Saturday. Not only would both teams like to win the final junior A tilt in the building, but both sides are scrapping for top spot in the EastLink Division as the regular season winds down. A victory would lift the Bearcats (32-0-9-5) into a tie with the Mariners (34-8-2-1) for first place with four games remaining.
Fans are also expected to flood in to take in the historic contest and grab their tickets for the first game at RECC March 2 against the Metro Shipbuilders, which will be handed out at no charge.
“It’s the biggest game of the season for us,” Moore said. “We’re all really looking forward to it.”
Although some may be sad to see no more junior action in the stadium, Onslow’s Dave Roode, who starred at centre with the team from 1967 to 1971, said he feels the move to a shiny new arena is a positive one.
“It’s a sign of progress,” the 63-year-old said. “It’s a step toward the future and I think with it out by the new hospital, everybody can see those buildings from the highway and see there’s progress going on here.”
As the Truro Bearcats prepare for their final game at Colchester Legion Stadium, here is a timeline of junior hockey history at the 48-year-old arena on Lorne Street:
1965 – Colchester Legion Stadium is opened
1968-69 – Truro Bearcats join the Metro Valley Junior Hockey League
1969-70 – Bearcats win the first of three consecutive league championships
1973-74 – Bearcats win a fourth MVJHL title
1975-76 – Truro claims its fifth MVJHL crown in eight seasons
1982-83 – Truro Bearcats junior program folds
1997-98 – Bearcats return to Maritime Junior A Hockey League
2001 – Truro Bearcats draft Sidney Crosby of the Dartmouth Subways
2001-02 – Bearcats hire current head coach and general manager Shawn Evans
2002 – The Bearcats host the Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian championship
2004-05 – Bearcats win MJAHL championship, compete at Fred Page Cup
2006-07 – Bearcats win second MJAHL title, compete at Fred Page Cup
2008-09 – Bearcats lose in league final
2009-10 – Bearcats unveil new uniforms featuring ‘T’ logo
2012-13 – Bearcats play their final game at Colchester Legion Stadium before moving to RECC