TRURO – Regardless where life leads Brandon Boutilier, he will continue to embrace his junior A hockey days in Truro as one of the best times of his life.
Being a Truro Bearcat “is something I’ll be proud of for the rest of my life,” the 20-year-old told the Truro Daily News during the annual end-of-the-year Bearcat banquet on Thursday night at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
“It’s been unbelievable … it’s the best hockey I’ve ever played and ever will. And the people here – my billets, teammates, coaches, fans – they put it all on the line and would give you the shirt off their backs.”
It was an emotional night for the Bearcats as seven of them finish their time with the organization, meaning moving on and, in some cases, away from the teammates they now consider brothers.
Boutilier, now a Greenfield resident, is one of the graduates and even though he’s only been with the team since January, it is difficult to leave the team.
“It’s tough to say goodbye; you become brothers,” said Boutilier, adding wining the Kent Cup was obviously a highlight this year.
Another Bearcat graduate is Daniel Poliziani, 20, who spent a year with the local team after spending two years in the OHL.
“This league and the Bearcats have a lot of history and you can see how much it means to this community,” Poliziani said, adding he will miss being at the rink “almost everyday” and seeing his teammates.
Poliziani said it was a tremendous year, and not just because the team won the league championship.
“For me, I wasn’t put in the spotlight much until I came here. It was a lot of pressure and responsibility and a great challenge. And to do something positive with it and try to be a role model for the younger guys on the team, that was great.”
And Poliziani, who hopes to play university hockey next, will take away some special memories.
“I’ll remember the rituals in the locker room with (Phil) Fife. We’d have a handshake before every game,” Poliziani said, smiling. “And I will – and won’t miss the guys (laughing) at me because I’d wash my visor at a specific time every game.”
Truro’s Daniel Perigo, 19, is one of the returning Bearcats next year. He’s been with the team three years and watching the graduating players at the banquet has him already thinking about how emotional it will be next year.
“All the 20-year-olds do a speech. As a 19-year-old I’m laughing and trying not to think I have to do it next year,” he said.
Saying goodbye to some of the guys was difficult for Perigo as well.
“It’s tough. Some I won’t see as much ... I wish them the best in hockey and in life in general.”
When Perigo reviews the past year, winning the Kent Cup remains the highlight, however, other moments stand out as well.
“For myself, I was more of a leader this year and had to take more responsibility on the ice and in the dressing room.”
Perigo also had a special message for Bearcat fans.
“Thank you for sticking with us through thick and thin,” he said.
During the Truro Bearcat banquet, a number of awards were presented, including the following.
MHL all-star team league defence award – Daniel Poliziani
Young/Knickle trophy for goaltending duo – Chris Festarini and Jacob Fancy
All-star team forward for Fred Page Cup – Brandon Pye
Player award – Daniel Poliziani
Hardest worker – Ryan Moore
Unsung hero – Ryan Moore
Most dedicated – Ryan Moore
Best attitude – Cal Gloade
First half winner – Mitchell Robillard
Second half winner – Jacob Smith
Overall winner – Jacob Smith
Will Sutherland Memorial Bursary – Ryan Moore
Iran Man Award (for players who were in all regular season games):