TRURO, N.S. – The 1997-98 Truro Bearcats will celebrate their 20-year reunion in the Hubtown this weekend.
At least 16 members of the team, including Anders Akerberg of Sweden, have confirmed attendance for the two-day event, which gets started Friday with a get-together at Doolys.
“It’s going to be a special weekend,” said Randy Frame, who along with former teammate Francois Paiement, organized the reunion. “I can’t wait to see the guys.”
The Bearcats returned to the Maritime Junior A Hockey League in 1997 after a 14-year absence.
Under the guidance of head coach and GM Steve Crowell, the team surpassed all expectations during their inaugural season, finishing second in the Maurice Bent Division with a 27-19-4-2 record. In the playoffs, Truro bounced the East Hants Penguins in a quarter-final series before a heartbreaking seven-game loss to the Dartmouth Oland Exports in the division final.
“That playoff run we had was unbelievable,” Frame, a then 19-year-old, said this week. “The series against Dartmouth, I get goosebumps just thinking about it. We were not supposed to be in that situation. We ended up taking a three games to two lead with that overtime win at the Metro Centre, unfortunately we couldn’t close it out at home, and then had the epic Game 7 triple-overtime loss – that still hurts.”
Frame, who grew up in Brookfield and now lives in Enfield, said the 1997-98 Bearcats were tight-knit and spent just as much time together away from the rink as they did on the ice. He said planned outings and games nights were encouraged by the coaching staff, all in an effort to keep the group close.
“Little things like that went a long ways as far as building the team, I thought,” said Frame.
On the ice, the Bearcats were a talented group. Many of the players were familiar with their teammates from Day 1, having played with or against them in midget hockey.
“Take away five or six of the guys, all of us pretty much knew each other, so we had that going into it from the start, so that helped a lot,” said Frame.
“This team, right from the get-go, we were one big unit, really. I’ve been a part of a lot of teams and this is the one team … we were inseparable, we were such a cohesive unit.”
Following Friday night’s get-together, members of the team will play a street hockey game at the Truro Civic Square, beginning at 1 p.m. It will coincide with Rogers Hometown Hockey weekend.
“That just fell into our laps really,” Frame said of the timing of the two events. “Francois and I started talking about the reunion two years ago, and probably about five months ago we got a date down … we had that date reserved before we even knew about Hometown Hockey coming, so that kind of fell into our laps and it’s going to make the weekend that much better.”
The 1997-98 Bearcats will be guests of honour at the Maritime Junior Hockey League game Saturday evening at the RECC between Truro and Valley. Each member of that first team will be introduced during a special ceremony prior to puck drop at 7 p.m.
“That’s going to be great,” said Frame. “That’s going to be icing on the cake. All of the guys, when I informed them about that, they were pretty touched that the organization’s going to do that, so it’s pretty special.”
1. Chris Wilcox
2. Dan Read
3. Andy Brown
4. Russell Smith
5. Anders Akerberg
7. Doug Clarke
8. Robbie Bennett
9. Dean Tucker
10. Jeff Towriss
11. Josh Boulton
12. Geoff Carter
14. Matt Boulton
15. Mike Murphy
16. Francois Paiement
17. Branwell Beck
18. Brookes vanTassell
19. Jared Crawford
20. Mike Keough
22. Randy Frame
24. Robbie Sutherland
25. Robbie Dickson
31. Chris Pierce
84. Ken MacPherson