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Sports hot bed heating up in the area


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Many of us get into that situation where we ask ourselves, "haven't I been here before?"
Such was the case Wednesday night at the Colchester Legion Stadium as two outstanding hockey clubs, the Truro Bearcats and the Pictou County Weeks Crushers, completed three periods of high-pressured play deadlocked at 1-1.
With the third game of the Maurice Bent Division Maritime Junior A Hockey League playoff series attracting a large crowd from both sides of Mount Thom, (as old friend Kevin Adshade would say) it was downright exciting and a number of us were, in all honesty, also feeling a slight twinge of nervousness.
There high in the back row of stands, in the centre ice area on the visitors' side of the stadium, were 'the flying grampys' or perhaps that should be 'the grumpy old grampys.'
And for the second time in three games we were admiring two disciplined and determined hockey clubs needing overtime to decide a winner. Talk about getting your money's worth for the price of admission, that was the case and then some!
Between former junior and senior hockey star Ronnie Gaudette, New Glasgow Ranger forward of yesteryear Frankie MacDonald, Alton's version of Slapshot Keith Fisher, Middle Stewiacke resident Morris Nelson and I, no one was offering a prediction as to which team would win the close battle.
The approximately 1,240 fans did not have to wait long and with just over three minutes of the fourth period played, a neat bit of passing deep in the Truro zone by Scott Lavigne and Jason Rinzler finally guided the puck onto the stick of Ryan Stoddard. The steady forward quickly shovelled it past a helpless Bearcat net minder Luke Gallant and the game was over.
Gaudette, a former scoring champion and an outstanding competitor who played more than 25 years with such top Maritime hockey clubs as Halifax St. Mary's in junior and Halifax Atlantics, Truro Bearcats, Amherst Ramblers and Moncton Hawks in senior ranks, commented just after the '2-1 visitors' was flashed on the scoreboard.
"It was another good hockey game, there's not much between these two teams. I think we're in for a great series from here on in. Truro still has the series lead two games to one but with Thursday night's game going back to New Glasgow, who really knows?"
Incidentally, Gaudette is the grandfather of the Weeks Crushers outstanding playmaking forward Jason Rinzler and Frankie MacDonald is the grandfather of Pictou County's fine young defence prospect Kyle MacLennan.
It was the 1964-65 hockey season that I had the pleasure of playing goal for the New Glasgow Rangers who were led by the likes of MacDonald, Brian Perry, Jimmy MacNeil, Ralph Cameron, Stu Young and former National Hockey Leaguers Fleming MacKell and Ivan Irwin.
We played the Moncton Hawks in a five out of nine final series for the Maritime Senior Hockey League championship. Gaudette, big Hugh Matheson, George Gosslin, Hartley Estrabrooks, Red Mullins and goaltender Don Larin all starred for the Hawks at that time.
And as our sports hot-bed area continues to light up, that Truro Bearcat-Amherst Rambler alumni hockey game tomorrow afternoon at the stadium, scheduled for 4 p.m., certainly promises to be an entertaining affair.
Jim Cumming, who will suit up for Truro along with such former stars as Ray Frame, Donnie Cormier, Robbie Cook, Mike Henderson, Danny Lombard, Danny McCarthy, Freeman Maxwell, Danny Burgess and goaltender Matt Ioranni, commented Tuesday.
"Steve Morrisey, Steve Topshee and I played in an alumni game in Amherst about three weeks ago. One of their players, Terry McManaman telephoned recently about playing a junior alumni game in Truro. Chub Bartlett, our manager, really took the bull by the horns and he's done a good job organizing things for Saturday."
Graham Geddes, listed as trainer but also a publicist regarding tomorrow's game, shared.
"I grew up watching Randy Crowell and many of these guys play junior hockey, I'm very much looking forward to Saturday. The proceeds will go to the Truro Kwik Kopy Bantam AAA Bearcats who will be hosting the Atlantics in April. Hugh Matheson and Randy Crowell will be doing the coaching and this should add to a great occasion."
With the Nova Scotia Minor Midget AAA Championship Tournament taking place in Amherst this weekend and both the Truro ScotiaMcLeod Bearcats and the Brookfield Elks competing, Sports Scene contacted Truro assistant coach Brad Higgins for a comment.
"We bring the seven top ranked teams together this weekend. Cole Harbour and East Hants will be tough and both Brookfield and Cumberland have come a long way since early in the season. Every team wants to step up. For us, it means bringing our 'A' game and we want to play strong hockey both offensively and defensively in Amherst this weekend," Higgins remarked.
The Brookfield Bantam AA Elks are on a roll. After eliminating Truro, the Elks were forced to the third game in a best two-out-of-three series against Pictou County before winning a 1-0 thriller in Stellerton. Dennis Nolan recorded the shutout and Drew McNutt netted the game's only goal.
Manager and assistant coach Danny Nolan commented.
"It was an intense game, a good one to win, a tough one to lose. We begin our Mainland Bantam AA League Championship play March 14 in Kentville and we're off to the provincial championship in Halifax March 28. Things are getting pretty exciting for our young players."
The Elks have many bright spots including 5 foot, 10 inch,190 pound defenceman Lucas Dawe who turns 15 on March 16, the brilliant female forward Kaleigh Queripel and promising rookies Derek Naugler and Zack Bates.

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