MASSTOWN – Duncan Nichols-Delay hopes his Nova Scotia vacation never ends.
Along with his mother Gail Nichols, the 13-year-old goaltender arrived at his grandmother Carol Nichol’s home in Masstown June 30. It is their first trip east from Alberta in seven years.
“This trip to Nova Scotia is the trip of a lifetime,” Duncan said.
As soon as he heard about the trip, he packed his goalie gear and started scouting out hockey schools.
“I want to try and get as much ice time in as possible to improve my game and be ready for the next level.”
Duncan learned of Finn Goalie Training at the BMO Centre in Bedford.
“I’m going to get on the ice for a session,” he said. “I’ll be happy to see the other goaltenders from around here and I’ll compare this to Alberta.”
Born in Calgary, Duncan and his mother reside in Langdon, 18 miles east of Calgary. The five-foot-seven, 145-pound netminder played with the Indus Hurricanes in Tier 1 peewee hockey last season. Just before coming to Nova Scotia, Duncan completed 11 weeks of spring hockey in Calgary with NED2001 Raiders.
Anxious to get to the BMO Centre in Bedford, Duncan has been keeping busy.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to Masstown Market a couple times,” he said. “I’m hoping to see the new Rath Eastlink Community Centre and I’m really excited about playing golf at Greenfield Golf. I understand it is a beautiful golf course. I‘m just getting started at golf.”
Spending time with relatives and checking out his local roots has also been important to the mature young visitor.
“I had a great visit with my great uncle Gordon Nichols who lives in Belmont,” Duncan said. “Gordon played ball and was a goaltender in hockey. I’ve also been enjoying checking the local paper for sports news – I enjoy following the NHL trades especially with a few of my favourite teams.”
Duncan, his mother Gail and I talked further about another era and of a time when the name Nichols was prominent in local sports.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, Gordon, the catcher, and his brother Jim, the centrefielder, played a key role as Belmont Bombers contended in the Truro & District Softball League. When winter came around, Jim and a third brother Lionel played with the Lower Onslow Tom Cats in the Truro & District Hockey League. Gordon played a season in goal in the same league with 16X Debert.
“I was born in 1963 and a little too young to have watched my father play ball or hockey,” Gail said. “I often heard he was a good ball player and hockey player. I just wish I could have watched him play.”
Gail’s father Jim was instrumental in the building of the West Colchester United Arena in Debert.
“Dad worked there for 15 years,” recalled Gail, who played hockey and broomball. “I spent a lot of time at the rink as a teenager. Sports was my passion.”
Gail was one of only a few girls who played in a Debert boy’s league while growing up. Later, the strong skating defenseman played for the 1990 New Brunswick provincial team at the National Women’s Hockey Championship.
Moving to Calgary, Gail played women’s hockey for five seasons during the early 1990s. During her final season playing out West, one of her teammates was a young Hayley Wickenheiser who would go on to lead Canada to four Olympic gold medals.
Gordon Nichols recently enjoyed having two outstanding visitors at his Belmont home.
“Gail and Duncan were here for about two hours,” Gordon said. “I found Duncan to be a real down to earth young fellow. Duncan talked about mature things young people don’t usually talk about. He loves sports and it was really great to spend time with him. I’m glad he’s going to get some ice time in and it’s great he’ll get a chance to play golf at Greenfield.”