By Gerry Hale
The Bearcats won the Kent Cup championship. That statement has a nice ring to it. In fact, it sounds better each time it's repeated.
This crop of Bearcats began the year with its sights set on being competitive and being in the mix when it counted the most.
The returnees, rookie picks and acquisitions meshed quickly and since the Christmas Break was the hottest team in the MHL.
Going 19-3 in regular season play and 12-2 in post-season play during that time clearly constitute an impressive record. They earned everything they got and have the hardware to prove it.
Some league observers suggested the Bearcats had the easiest route to the championship. Firstly, that's disrespectful of the teams the Bearcats faced in their post-season run.
Secondly, there are advantages to winning the President's Cup. For the record, that's awarded to the team finishing first overall.
The championship series was a dandy once the early jitters were removed. Both the Commandos and Bearcats showed that a reliance on skating, hitting and discipline can be very entertaining and very rewarding.
The Dieppe Commandos finished second in the Meek Division but showed quickly they belonged in the MHL final. They were a strong team, well supported, and they forced Truro to raise its game.
They were unfamiliar championship foes. They won't be anymore and, already the Commandos are mapping their future with a significant playoff experience in their pocket.
This is the 20th anniversary of the Fred Page Cup. The Bearcats are making their fifth appearance in the Eastern Canadian qualifier, this time as defending champions and the only MHL team to be making back-to-back appearances since 1996.
At this level, the competition will be unfamiliar and, undoubtedly, strong. The host St. Jerome Panthers had an exceptional year before being knocked off in league semifinal play. The Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) and the Granby Inouk (LQHAAA) round out participating teams.
The Bearcats have 12 players returning to this regional event. That's something that can't be taught and it should be a strong ingredient in their game plan and overall performance.
The MHL has won seven FPC championships and has been involved in six other finals over the last 20 years. That's impressive and the other leagues are well aware of what comes out of the Maritimes.
Tonight, the Bearcats face the host team. The Bearcats know how to silence a crowd. Just do it.
Go Cats Go!
Gerry Hale is media relations co-ordinator of the Truro Bearcats junior A hockey team.