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SPORTS SCENE: The voices of young hockey players

Following a recent practice, minor hockey players pause at the sportsplex in Brookfield. From left, Drew Leslie, Rigby vanTassell, Mathew O’Hara, Broden vanTassell and Julian Rushton.
Following a recent practice, minor hockey players pause at the sportsplex in Brookfield. From left, Drew Leslie, Rigby vanTassell, Mathew O’Hara, Broden vanTassell and Julian Rushton.

BROOKFIELD, N.S. – Four minor hockey associations are found in Colchester County, located in Truro, Brookfield, Debert and Tatamagouche.

During the coming weeks we plan to drop in on all four.

Last Saturday morning I dropped into the sportsplex in Brookfield and found young South Colchester Minor Hockey Association players going through skating drills.

The players represented novice and atom divisions, you could practically feel the energy of these young kids as they enjoyed the moment.

After practice, players shared their outlooks on hockey subjects.

Drew Leslie, 8, of Middle Musquodoboit, is a second-year novice player.

“I enjoy playing hockey at the sportsplex in Brookfield,” Leslie said. “Sometimes, when I just get home from school, I’m a little tired, but still, I’m excited to be going to play hockey. I have really good coaches, they do really fun drills. I switched around last year playing different positions but this year I usually play forward. I meet lots of new people playing hockey. My brother

Jake is a centre in bantam A – he plays for Brookfield Elks.”

Julian Rushton, 8, of Maitland, is also a second-year novice player.

“It’s about 20 miles to the rink in Brookfield from my home,” Rushton told me. “I feel really happy when I’m going to hockey. I like skating around and shooting pucks. I’ve made new friends through hockey. My very favourite part of hockey would be scoring goals. The fun we have is important. My favourite NHL team is Pittsburgh Penguins, my favourite player is Sidney Crosby.”

Mathew O’Hara, 9, of Brookfield, plays atom A and is a defenceman.

“I’ve been playing since I was four,” O’Hara said. “Watching hockey on TV got me interested. I was anxious to get on the ice, my grandpa (Shawn O’Hara) taught me how to skate. I find hockey a lot of fun, I get to play with my friends and competition makes me more determined. I find I’m getting more confident all the time. I like passing the puck and it’s fun scoring goals – hockey really inspires me.”

Broden vanTassell, 10, of Brookfield, plays centre. A fifth-year player, he’s in atom A.

“I come to practices quite a bit early,” Broden said. “This sometimes means we get on the ice earlier. It’s good getting more ice time. I like getting assists on goals and I like travelling. I also like the competition – most players try to win.”

Rigby vanTassell, 8, is Broden’s younger brother. Also playing atom A, he’s a defenceman now in his fourth year in minor hockey.

“I like getting on the ice early too. I skate around and shoot the puck and work on my game. I haven’t scored many goals yet but I know I’ll like scoring goals.”

Amanda Cornelius, president of the SCMHA, said 155 kids registered for 2017-18. Many volunteers play an important part in the development of these young players.

* * * *

Positive comments are still being thrown around regarding the 1997-98 Truro Bearcats returning to town last weekend for a rousing 20-year-reunion.

Randy Frame, who did a lot of work to organize the event, said it was a huge success.

“I laughed for two days straight, it was such a good time getting together with these former teammates after 20 years. Everything we did, we did together. The Bearcats organization used us fantastic, we had a really terrific celebration.”

Doug Clarke’s wife Kathy offered an interesting perspective.

“To have those guys get together after 20 years, it was exciting for everyone. To be really honest, Doug had been looking forward to the reunion since back in the summer. There was a lot of catching up to do, some of the guys had aged some, a couple had started to go bald, others were showing some gray and a few had put on some weight. You could see that these former players had really matured.”

Talking with Kathy served as a reminder. She is a member of the outstanding “Little” sports family of North River. A brother Michael won the Canadian Golden Gloves heavyweight boxing title in the early 2000s, another brother Robbie played

two seasons in junior A hockey with Pictou County Weeks Crushers, John played junior B hockey for the Brookfield Elks and a sister Carla played hockey for Saint Mary’s University. Kathy’s chosen sport was softball.

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

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