For the Truro Bearcats, playing in the Nova Scotia Bantam Hockey League is about much more than wins and losses.
From left, Truro Bearcats major bantam players Cameron Allaby, Jack Lynds and captain Ben Higgins.
It's about playing a fast-skating, elite brand of hockey and competing against the best players in the province. It's also about development and learning the game at the top level.
"Playing major bantam hockey is quite the experience," said rookie defenceman Cameron Allaby. "I have learned a lot from Lou (Lanceleve) our coach. He's my favourite coach in hockey so far. This is a very high calibre of hockey. It feels like you are playing against players from around the league who can someday play in the National Hockey League."
Allaby, a 14-year-old from Masstown, who played AA bantam hockey last season, has one goal and five assists in 31 games this season.
"It's getting to be late in the season and the playoffs are going to be challenging," he said. "We'll be going against one of the top teams in the first round. But we seem to be improving and getting better and better in recent games. We all want badly to extend our season."
The Bearcats, who play home games at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre, have a 2-24-5 record and sit 11th in the highly competitive 12-team league.
Forward Ben Higgins, a second-year major bantam player and the team scoring leader with 13 goals and 16 assists in 31 games, also spoke highly of coach Lanceleve.
"Lou has taught me things about hockey I never knew," Higgins, 15, of Bible Hill, said. "This is very competitive hockey. We're playing against the top players of our age. This is really good for each of us. After a slow start I feel our guys are really coming along. I think everyone has been working really hard. I'd like to see us move on further with the season."
Goaltender Jack Lynds, who has a respectable goals against average of 3.90 through 1,215 minutes played, said the league is very fast.
"The players can really skate and they can shoot the puck," Lynds, 14, of North River, said. "I feel that playing these past two years in major bantam has helped me improve both on and off the ice. The team has a real good program. We have two regular season games left and a tournament in Pictou before we go into a two-out-of-three league playoff series. Our team has been progressing and coming together lately. We're getting closer to our goal of winning."
The Bearcats are owned by Truro businessmen Jon Stanfield, Dave Ritcey, Dave Higgins and Greg Mullen.
"Our program has always been driven by providing the kids with an experience in hockey and life," Stanfield said. "We are very conscious of developing their hockey skills and their knowledge of the game. We are also focused on developing the kids personally. Our coaches and staff are committed to the player experience."
Stanfield said he likes the way the Bearcats are progressing.
"The team has been involved in some very close games during the past month. The players are continuing to work hard towards the playoffs with a last-minute push to make it to provincials."
For some fast, exciting end to end hockey, fans are reminded the Truro Bearcats major bantam team hosts Pictou County (Scotsburn) today at 4 p.m. at the RECC.
You might say Hughie Matheson was picked off first base.
Earlier this week, a surprised Matheson saw his home invaded by quite an enthusiastic group of relatives and friends.
It came as a complete surprise to the former Maritime senior hockey and fastball star and outstanding junior hockey coach for he thought he was going to get his 75th birthday in quietly and without fan fair.
Matheson, inducted into both the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame and the Colchester County Sports Hall of Fame, is head coach of Brookfield Elks of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League.
Lyle Carter's sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.