Last week at the sportsplex in Brookfield, the Cumberland County Blues edged the Elks 3-2 in a Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League game.
A hard-played game, it was obvious these players love their hockey. And, standing out was the fact that three of the Blues
players are local boys, meaning they travel a fair distance for home games and practices.
Alex Clark, Kolby Grant and Hayden Boutilier are Blues regulars.
“It’s kind of tough as far as travel goes,” said Clark, 18, a defenceman from Truro. “Going to Springhill is as far as I ever travelled to play hockey. I’m adjusting to it though, everything is good. As a first year player, I’m finding the hockey a lot faster and the players are bigger and stronger. But, again, I’m adjusting. We’re probably the youngest team in the league but we really support each other, we have good team spirit.”
Clark, a Nova Scotia Community College student, played last season for the Truro Bearcats in AA midget under coach Sandy Murdoch.
Grant, 19, lives in Valley and is pursuing a career as a utility lineman. Scoring his team’s first goal in the game against Brookfield, Grant plays all three forward positions.
“It was nice to get our first win,” said Grant. “It kind of got the monkey off our back. In some ways it was like playing a home game, I’m so familiar with Brookfield and Colchester County. I was playing really close to home, it was a cool feeling. As one of the older players on our team, I find the younger players work really hard, everyone goes all out for the team. I’m excited, we’re only going to get better.”
Grant played junior B last season for the Antigonish Bulldogs, coached by Richard MacKenzie.
He played minor hockey in East Hants, Brookfield and Truro.
Boutilier, 19, lives in Bible Hill and is studying law and security at NSCC. A second-year right-winger with the Blues, he played earlier high school hockey for Jeff Hazelton’s CEC Cougars.
“We have a number of players making the jump up to junior B,” Boutilier said. “This is a good group of guys and it will come together. Our big goal is to make the playoffs, I feel we
have a real good roster and it’s a realistic goal.”
Blues head coach Phil Lynds and assistant coaches Troy McNutt and Brad Higgins are from the Truro area. Assistant coach Matt Christie is from Riverview, N.B., and Ed Hencher, the Blues
trainer, is from Truro.
“Out of 20 skaters we have 13 rookies,” Lynds said. “We’re going very young. There’s not a real strong feeder system so we knew we’d take some lumps. We’ll go with this young group and we’ll work towards developing these players. The league has really developed into a very fast hockey league. The hockey IQ is much better, we’re seeing a higher-calibre league. There are junior A players showing up with teams and one player now playing,
played in the Q.”
A 20-year coach, Lynds has a good resume which includes leading MU Rhinos to a Nova Scotia junior C title in 2014-15. This is his third season coaching Cumberland County.
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Bruce Gardiner, second from left, is joined by his parents Buddy and Sharon Gardiner following his induction into the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame earlier this month.
Buddy and Sharon Gardiner looked on as their son, former NHL forward Bruce Gardiner, was inducted into the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame earlier this month.
Buddy, originally from Shubenacadie East, has many friends and former teammates in the Truro area from his days in the outfield with the Brookfield Elks in senior softball and playing with the Elks in intermediate A hockey.
Now retired following a 30-year career with the Ontario Provincial Police, Buddy commented on the induction.
“Bruce had two childhood dreams, to play in the NHL and to be a police officer. Bruce has realized both dreams, Sharon and I are very proud of him.”
Bruce, a 1991 draft pick by St. Louis Blues, played 312 regular season games in the NHL with Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils. Leaving the NHL in 2002, he played in the Russian Super League and later in Finland.
At 14 years of age (in 1986) Bruce helped rescue two men and two boys in trouble on the Mattagami River. He was later awarded the Medal of Bravery.
Now 45, Bruce has spent 12 years with the Barrie Police Force. He is part of the tactical team.
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.