SPORTS SCENE – By Lyle Carter: Was it really 37 years ago?

A trip down memory lane with the 1979-80 Truro Jr. A Bearcats

Published on February 3, 2017

The 1970-80 Truro Bearcats, front, from left, Chuck Provost, Steve Morrisey, Shannon Lane, Steve Patton, Ken Swick, Dan Burgess and Pat Lange. Second row, Jed Ritcey, Mike Whidden, Don Cameron, Greg Patton, Dave Parker, Mike Topshee, Lorne Paul and Freeman Byard. Back row, Steve Dennis, Rob Jones, Pierre Lynds, Steve McConnell, Steve Dewar and Darryl MacDonald. Missing from photo Derek Bourguigon.

TRURO, N.S. – Rob Stuart, eight-year president of the Truro and Area Minor Hockey Association, has a clear memory from when he was an 11 year old.

“My father, Ken Stuart, was with the Truro Bearcats junior A hockey executive,” said Stuart. “He drove his car nearly every road game – it was pretty neat, I’d get to go along. In Amherst and places like that I’d go on the bench and I’d open the gate for the players.”

Spending time in the dressing room and with star players, Stuart was left with strong memories.   

 “Was it really 37 years ago?” he said recently as he passed me a photo of the 1979-80 Truro Bearcats team. “That was such a great time in my life, I loved hockey.”

After talking with Stuart, I decided it would be interesting to get comments from Bearcats players. Steve Dewar, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force, was reached in Ottawa.

“I would have been 16, it was my second season with the Bearcats,” Dewar, now 53, said. “Quite a few of our players were playing their last year in junior. We played Scotia Colts in the playoffs; they defeated us and went on to win the championship. I especially remember Steve Dennis and Steve Morrisey being outstanding hockey players. Dennis was a big, strong, fast skater with a hard shot; Morrisey was fast and crafty and he could really put the puck in the net.”

Dewar, who grew up in Brookfield, played five seasons with the Bearcats and after the team folded he played a sixth junior season (1983-84) with East Hants Penguins.

A rugged forward, besides being dangerous around the net, Dewar could really fly on skates. His RCA career has spanned 28 years,

including spending three years in the Netherlands. Dewar and his wife Krista have three grown children.

Steve Dennis, a left-winger, was a good hockey prospect who enjoyed stints in Sorel, Que., and Cape Pele, N.B. He now lives in North River and works for the Town of Truro.

“I wouldn’t change a thing regarding the hockey friendships I made,” Dennis, 56, said. “Especially playing with Truro Bearcats, quite a few of us are still good friends today after all these years. Overall, playing junior hockey has left me with a lot of good memories.”

Steve Morrisey, 57, an electrician who resides in Salmon River, said the 1979-80 hockey team was loaded with talent.

“We just didn’t get enough consistency,” the outstanding centre said. “I recall Steve Dennis and I playing the first half of the season in Cape Pele, N.B., and joining the Bearcats around Christmas time. Junior hockey was good and competitive back in the 70s, there are lots of good memories.”

Rob Jones, 57, a defenceman, recalled his final season of junior hockey.

“It’s hard to believe that 37 years have passed by,” the Valley resident who works for the County of Colchester,” said. “We still laugh and remember highlights from those days – it seems like just a short time ago. I’m almost feeling old thinking back to 1979-80, but playing junior hockey for Truro Bearcats is something I’ll never forget.”

Steve Patton, a forward and the team’s captain, remains in hockey and is a coach with Newbridge Academy. He has coached 41 years from the minor level up to junior and senior.

 “That season was the final year of junior for several players,” Patton, 57, in real-estate and a Bible Hill resident, recalled. “Guys like Steve Dennis and Steve Morrisey – we played together from peewee right up through. Thinking back to that season, we ran up against a very strong Scotia Colts team. I think of the great

people involved, Jed Ritcey coaching, the executive members and a good group of hockey players. You definitely meet a lot of nice people through hockey, many of the friendships we made are still ongoing.”

There are many other players from the 1979-80 Truro Bearcats we would have enjoyed talking to – Greg Patton, one of this area’s most outstanding offensive-minded junior defencemen ever, Don Cameron, a real honest competitor, Dan Burgess, later a successful coach, Mike Whidden, Lorne Paul, Pierre Lynds and others.

Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him a 902 673-2857.