By Lyle Carter
Former Chicago Black Hawks defenceman Keith Magnuson would love the zest G Blackmore and Calem McAndrew have for hockey.
The late all-star and 10-year NHL performer would lead his teammates onto Chicago Stadium ice, and with the organ playing and the words ‘here come the Black Hawks' ringing out, Magnuson would practically fly around the ice surface at full speed with his long blond hair waving in the breeze.
Magnuson had a noticeable enthusiasm for hockey and so do Blackmore and McAndrew.
"Hockey is a wonderful, competitive sport," Blackmore, 14, of Millbrook, said. "Hockey is a real fun game to play. I enjoy hockey a lot. It's my favorite sport."
Watching Blackmore play for Truro Bearcats of the Nova Scotia Major Bantam Hockey League this season, it was his enthusiasm and hop each time he left the player's bench to take his position on the forward line that caught my attention.
"Playing these past two seasons of major bantam hockey was certainly difficult," Blackmore told me. "But it was good to play against the best players in the province. Sure, it was a challenge but it was great in that our players all improved a lot."
Bearcats coach Lou Lanceleve likes what Blackmore brings to the table.
"G is a great skater," Lanceleve said. "G has got some skill and he's a strong kid. His work ethic is outstanding and he was a good penalty killer with our club. G will be going over the mountain next to try out in major midget hockey with Pictou County Weeks."
Blackmore is hopeful as he looks to the future.
"I would really like to play major midget hockey. I'm looking forward to April or May and attending Pictou County Weeks spring evaluation camp. I'll be doing off-ice training to be ready. I'll also be attending Troy Fougere's hockey camp."
A Calgary Flames fan, Blackmore said his favorite NHL player is Jarome Iginla of the Boston Bruins.
A multi-sport athlete, Blackmore played two seasons in lacrosse with Truro Bearcats, he played both soccer and baseball and has also earned his junior black belt in Uechi-ryu.
McAndrew, a centre in peewee A hockey with Pine Acres R.V. Elks of the South Colchester Minor Hockey Association, is in his seventh year playing organized hockey.
"I first got interested in hockey because my friends were playing," McAndrew, 11, of Brentwood, said. "Talking hockey at school and then playing on the same team our friendships grew. Because of hockey I've really enjoyed some fun times."
McAndrew said he enjoyed playing for coach Ernie McNea and that improving his skating and learning new hockey moves are important.
"You have to be able to stickhandle with your head up," he said. "Puck handling is really important when the other team is pressuring you. Stick handling is a big part of the game. You have to be able to control the puck through the neutral zone."
Highlights to date for the enthusiastic McAndrew include winning a league championship in the atom house league, making it to provincials with an atom B team and while at provincials winning the fastest puck-handling skills competition.
"Grabbing a puck and stick handling through each pile-on was fun," McAndrew said. "You could only stickhandle, there was none of this just pushing the puck."
The young forward watches two or three NHL games each week.
"I feel that this really helps me," McAndrew said. "Some of my close friends and I check up on stats every day. Keeping track of the NHL and trying to watch players' moves is important to a young player. If I'm ever going to get to the National Hockey League I have to keep learning."
McAndrew named Pittsburgh Penguins as his favourite NHL team.
"My three favorite big league players are Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Evgeni Malkin. Anyone who follows hockey will agree these three guys are pretty good."
Besides hockey, McAndrew plays baseball in a Truro league, he played lacrosse for one season with the Truro Bearcats and he has also been involved in organized soccer.
Lyle Carter's sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.