By Lyle Carter
It was back in 2011 when three Truro hockey players - John Guinan, Mark McInnis and Mitch Whalen - participated in the BMO Hockey Heroes Weekend played at the BMO Complex in Hammonds Plains.
Outstanding growth has taken place in three years and this year three local teams will take part in the tournament in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia.
"Our team, the Truro Hockey Oars, are playing in the tournament for the second year," Jim Perry, 53, a stellar goaltender, said. "It was difficult rounding up players last year but this year we have a waiting list of players who want to play. Of the tonne of hockey tournaments I've played in, nothing compares to playing in this tournament."
Perry said 16 teams have entered this year with play taking place April 25 to the 27.
"Each team is required to raise a minimum of $16,000," Perry said. "We do multiple fundraisers. Coming up Friday, March 7 at the Engine Room we have a fundraiser and everyone is welcome. Contact any of the players for tickets or just show up at the door."
Sixteen former NHL players take part in the tournament and the team that raises the most money gets first draft pick.
"The team's continue to pick NHL players right down to number 16, depending on money raised," Perry said. "It's exciting and the whole thing is professionally run. It adds to the weekend getting to play on the same team with a former NHLer. Some of the NHLers this year will be Guy Carbonneau, Glen Anderson, Todd Warriner, Terry O'Reilly and Marcel Dionne."
On Thursday nights, participating players get together at Champions Bar and Grill to talk about and plan for the BMO weekend, as well as to discuss a variety of other hockey matters.
"This helps get more players interested in the BMO Hockey Heroes Weekend," Perry said. "Many of us play on different teams and in different leagues, so grabbing a bite to eat together is an excellent time to get updated. It's fun to hear from the players and to listen to Richie Crowell tell us about a goal he scored or who tripped him in a recent game."
Guinan, who plays for Truro Heart Attacks, finds it remarkable that about $400,000 will be raised for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
"We are proud to say that Truro teams will raise in excess of $50,000," Guinan, 55, who had open-heart surgery in 2010, said. "Not bad for our boys, all for a really good cause. It's great to let our community know there are a bunch of guys motivated to help others through sports. We enjoy getting together, like-minded friends, we all have a love for the game of hockey."
Goaltender Shannon McInnis, playing for the second year, had a unique experience in 2013 when he faced former Toronto Maple Leafs star Al Iafrate in a five-shot challenge.
"I'm not sure I saw any of those shots," McInnis said. "Iafrate had the hardest shot in the NHL for 16 years. Actually, he didn't score on me. A couple shots hit my pads. I had to be thrilled."
The third Truro team playing in the BMO tournament will be the Truro Leafs, led by Ashley MacKay.
It was nice to have Colchester County representation during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
This past week saw Stewiacke resident Adam Caughey return home after what was described as a lifetime experience.
One unforgettable memory for Caughey was getting to watch his sister Denise (Caughey) Sondjo officiate (linesman) in the women's bronze-medal hockey game between Switzerland and Sweden.
Both Adam and Denise grew up in Truro. Denise now resides in Quebec City.
TAGLINE: Lyle Carter's sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.