Luke Macmillan is a big, strong two-way forward with the junior A Truro Bearcats.
©Truro Daily News photo
The Miramichi Timberwolves and Truro Bearcats open their Maritime Junior Hockey League championship series tonight in Miramichi.
The Bearcats advanced to the best-of-seven final by defeating first Yarmouth and then Amherst in hard-fought Eastlink South Division playoff series.
For Bearcats rookie centre Luke Macmillan, it has been an enjoyable playoff run.
“It’s definitely very exciting,” Macmillan, 17, of Shortts Lake, said. “It’s been nerve wracking at times but great to be part of. I was sick during part of the Yarmouth series so to come back and jump right into the playoff action, it’s been just a great experience.”
Depending on who you talk to, there have been a number of important turning points that have got the Bearcats to the league final.
In Game 4 of their series against the Ramblers, played in Amherst, brilliant goaltending by Truro’s Jason Rioux had a lot to do with the game’s outcome.
Another key in that win, after being cut early in the third period, reportedly by a high stick, the
team’s captain and outstanding scorer, Kyle Tibbo, returned to play late in the third period. With less than four minutes on the clock, he scored a huge goal and the Bearcats held on for an important 3-2 win.
“That fourth series game in Amherst was a great game to win,” Macmillan said. “It could have gone either way, there was a lot of end-to-end hockey. For Kyle Tibbo to return to the team and score that goal, it meant a lot, it shows his outstanding leadership. Tibbo is one of those guys you can’t help but look up to.”
Macmillan also enjoyed a terrific playoff run last season with Steve Crowell’s Dartmouth Steel Subaru Major Midgets as they won the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League championship.
In 2014-15 he played midget AA under Craig Carter. Playing his early minor hockey in Truro and Brookfield, Macmillan spoke about even earlier hockey experiences.
“I spent a lot of hours playing hockey with my dad (Ed Macmillan) and my brothers when I was a young kid. In Valley, we had a backyard pond we’d clear off and when we moved to Shortts Lake we’d make our own rink on the lake. Hockey has been a part of my life since I started walking.”
A Grade 12 student at South Colchester Academy, Macmillan has good size, standing six-foot-three and weighing 185 pounds. A real presence on the ice – what is further amazing is that this big, strong-skating centre is only 17 years of age. Macmillan’s twin brothers, Eric and Jonathan, 15, played bantam A for the Brookfield Elks this past season. The Elks finished
second recently in The Day of Champions played in Bridgewater.
The Bearcats and Timberwolves face off tonight at 7.30 p.m. in Miramichi. Game 2 of the series is Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro.
* * * *
We pause this week to remember two hockey players from yesteryear.
Rollie Stevens passed away in Truro at age 82. A former goaltender in the Truro District Hockey
League, Stevens played for Brookfield Elks, Bible Hill Dairymen, Hilden Owls and Shubenacadie Lions. He also played oldtimers hockey with Truro Bearcats.
“I always played against Rollie in the district league,” Jim MacKinnon said. “I played with Rollie with the Bearcat Old-Timers. Later, he stayed with the team as trainer. Could he ever organize things; he had towels, tape, oranges, anything a player wanted all lined up. Rollie was an A-1 guy – he looked after us just like we were young kids. If I had one thing to say about Rollie, it’s that you would never find a better guy. Everyone thought a lot of Rollie Stevens.”
Les Clarke passed away in Moncton at age 91. Clarke played for and coached Debert 16X in the TDHL. Later, he coached Onslow for several seasons.
“Back around 1953 when Shubenacadie dropped out of the league for a season, I came up and played for Onslow,” Ray Smiley said. “We remained friends all these years. Les was a friendly, good guy, liked by everyone. Les and Edna and Eunice and I, we did a lot of things together as couples over the years. We attended the 2015 TDHL reunion together, that was the last time I saw Les.”
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.