The Cougars assistant captain can think of nothing more fitting for his teammates as they honour a special man who touched nearly all of their lives.
Saturday’s game will be played for Mike Schmitt, the longtime Truro minor hockey coach who died a little over a year ago. All funds raised at the game will go towards the We Care About Cancer fund, helping cancer patients in Colchester County.
“I really hope to see the place packed,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to be a great game and it really couldn’t be for a better cause.”
Schmitt passed away from pancreatic cancer on Jan. 10 of last year. During his battle, close friend, doctor and minor hockey acquaintance Raj Makkar started the WCAC fund to help people like Schmitt. The fund became intertwined with his memory during the first annual Mike Schmitt Memorial Tournament in December.
Soon after, Cougars coach Jeff Hazelton came up with an idea to hold their own fundraiser.
“I was reading an article in the paper about Mike, and I realized that most of the players on our current team had probably played for him at some point,” he said.
The impact Schmitt left on the players was huge, Wheeler said.
“As much as he was a great coach to all of us, he was a great father figure. We learned so much from him on the ice, but also a lot of lessons away from hockey. He coached us in peewee, so it was a really important time in growing up.”
With the Truro Bearcats out of town on Saturday, Hazelton hopes the game will be a big draw. Facing off against the top team in the Northern Nova Scotia Hockey League should also help.
“It’s a healthy rivalry,” Hazelton said. “They have a real strong squad there, so if we’re going to pick one game to play for charity and showcase the high school hockey league, it would definitely be against them.”
The game gets underway 7 p.m. at Colchester Legion Stadium. Cost is $5 for adults, $3 for children. All proceeds go towards the WCAC fund in memory of Schmitt.
Hazelton also hopes to see a full house.
“It would be an awesome feeling,” he said. “It would mean a lot to the players who played for Mike over the years, and I’m sure it would mean a lot to the foundation and the family as well.”