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Sports Scene: Local hockey players take skills to Pictou County


During the late 1950s, a number of Colchester County hockey players traveled to Pictou County to play junior hockey for the Stellarton Royals. Johnny Hutchinson, Donnie Moore, Johnny Matheson, Lyle Bryson and Phil Henderson were some of the outstanding local prospects who crossed Mount Thom during that exciting era.

In some ways not much has changed. These days, eight talented local hockey players help make up the roster of the Pictou County Weeks Major Midgets of the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League.

Michael Stuart, a 6’2”, 180-pound right-winger, is a third year player with Weeks.

“Playing with Weeks Major Midgets these past three seasons has been a real good experience,” Stuart, 17, of Truro, said. “Hosting the Atlantic championships last year would be one of the highlights for sure. We finished third but overall we made a real good showing.”

Stuart, a graduate of the Truro & Area Minor Hockey Association, has good size.

“I try to play a physical game,” the Grade 12 Cobequid Educational Centre student said. “I’m a defensive-minded forward. I enjoy getting to kill a lot of penalties.”

Finishing regular season play in seventh place, Weeks Major Midgets opened a best-of-seven quarterfinal series against Steve Crowell’s Newbridge Academy, the league’s second place team, last weekend in Dartmouth.

“The first game Saturday went right down to the last eight minutes and we were all tied 3-3,” Stuart said. “It was a really close game. It was anyone’s game.”

With two late goals Newbridge took the series opener 5-3 and then took a two-game series lead with a 4-1 win Sunday.

“To get back in this series we’re going to have to play more gritty in the corners and play closer checking hockey,” said Stuart, who had an assist in each of the first two games. “Newbridge like to run with the puck and play a free-flow game. We’re going to have to take this away from them. We’ll have to make more body contact to offset their skating game.”

Caelan Blaikie, who enjoyed a strong season playing midget A hockey in 2013-14 with Brad Dillon’s Truro Bearcats, is a rookie left-winger for the Richard White-coached Weeks team.

“I found playing this hockey a bit different at the first of the year,” Blaikie, 16, of Bible Hill, said. “After awhile, I got used to meeting and playing with all the new players. Everything fell in place and we got to know each other on a personal level and as hockey players.”

The 5’10”, 160-pound Blaikie attended an evaluation camp held by Weeks Major Midgets last spring.

“I really wanted to play major midget,” Blaikie told me. “During camp I tried to play with confidence. At one point the coaches pulled me in the room and told me to keep up the good work. That made me feel really good. I felt that much closer to making the team. During training camp in August I learned I was on the roster.”

Blaikie, a Grade 10 student at CEC, is hopeful his team can bounce back with series games against Newbridge Academy scheduled for the Wellness Centre in New Glasgow Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

“My first season playing major midget hockey has been a big commitment,” he said. “But, it’s been really great. Players receive huge hockey exposure.”

Six other talented local players also suit up with Pictou County.

Luke Melanson, Bible Hill - third year goaltender: Melanson has great reflexes, is agile and very focused. Flashes an outstanding glove hand. Melanson was brilliant during the first two playoff games.

Lucas Holman, Bible Hill - third year defenceman: The captain of Weeks, Holman is a spirited leader. Has good size. A solid, physical presence.

Mathew Fougere, Valley - second year defenceman: Defensive minded, Fougere plays a heads-up game. Moves the puck well.

Lucas Rushton, East Mountain - third year forward: A good two-way player, Rushton is strong defensively and at killing penalties. Rushton is willing to sacrifice the body.

Ben Higgins, Bible Hill, rookie centre: One of the team’s top scorers, Higgins is a fast skating, skilled hockey player. A young forward with vast potential.

Jack Lynds, North River - rookie goaltender: An outstanding goaltending prospect. Lynds was recently named the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League’s rookie goaltender of the year.

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

 

 

 

 

In some ways not much has changed. These days, eight talented local hockey players help make up the roster of the Pictou County Weeks Major Midgets of the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League.

Michael Stuart, a 6’2”, 180-pound right-winger, is a third year player with Weeks.

“Playing with Weeks Major Midgets these past three seasons has been a real good experience,” Stuart, 17, of Truro, said. “Hosting the Atlantic championships last year would be one of the highlights for sure. We finished third but overall we made a real good showing.”

Stuart, a graduate of the Truro & Area Minor Hockey Association, has good size.

“I try to play a physical game,” the Grade 12 Cobequid Educational Centre student said. “I’m a defensive-minded forward. I enjoy getting to kill a lot of penalties.”

Finishing regular season play in seventh place, Weeks Major Midgets opened a best-of-seven quarterfinal series against Steve Crowell’s Newbridge Academy, the league’s second place team, last weekend in Dartmouth.

“The first game Saturday went right down to the last eight minutes and we were all tied 3-3,” Stuart said. “It was a really close game. It was anyone’s game.”

With two late goals Newbridge took the series opener 5-3 and then took a two-game series lead with a 4-1 win Sunday.

“To get back in this series we’re going to have to play more gritty in the corners and play closer checking hockey,” said Stuart, who had an assist in each of the first two games. “Newbridge like to run with the puck and play a free-flow game. We’re going to have to take this away from them. We’ll have to make more body contact to offset their skating game.”

Caelan Blaikie, who enjoyed a strong season playing midget A hockey in 2013-14 with Brad Dillon’s Truro Bearcats, is a rookie left-winger for the Richard White-coached Weeks team.

“I found playing this hockey a bit different at the first of the year,” Blaikie, 16, of Bible Hill, said. “After awhile, I got used to meeting and playing with all the new players. Everything fell in place and we got to know each other on a personal level and as hockey players.”

The 5’10”, 160-pound Blaikie attended an evaluation camp held by Weeks Major Midgets last spring.

“I really wanted to play major midget,” Blaikie told me. “During camp I tried to play with confidence. At one point the coaches pulled me in the room and told me to keep up the good work. That made me feel really good. I felt that much closer to making the team. During training camp in August I learned I was on the roster.”

Blaikie, a Grade 10 student at CEC, is hopeful his team can bounce back with series games against Newbridge Academy scheduled for the Wellness Centre in New Glasgow Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

“My first season playing major midget hockey has been a big commitment,” he said. “But, it’s been really great. Players receive huge hockey exposure.”

Six other talented local players also suit up with Pictou County.

Luke Melanson, Bible Hill - third year goaltender: Melanson has great reflexes, is agile and very focused. Flashes an outstanding glove hand. Melanson was brilliant during the first two playoff games.

Lucas Holman, Bible Hill - third year defenceman: The captain of Weeks, Holman is a spirited leader. Has good size. A solid, physical presence.

Mathew Fougere, Valley - second year defenceman: Defensive minded, Fougere plays a heads-up game. Moves the puck well.

Lucas Rushton, East Mountain - third year forward: A good two-way player, Rushton is strong defensively and at killing penalties. Rushton is willing to sacrifice the body.

Ben Higgins, Bible Hill, rookie centre: One of the team’s top scorers, Higgins is a fast skating, skilled hockey player. A young forward with vast potential.

Jack Lynds, North River - rookie goaltender: An outstanding goaltending prospect. Lynds was recently named the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League’s rookie goaltender of the year.

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

 

 

 

 

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