TRURO, N.S. – Being captain of the Truro Bearcats is a big deal for Ben Higgins.
“It’s really exciting,” said Higgins, 20, from Bible Hill. “I’ve watched this team since I was a little kid, went to every game, I was a fan, and to come back after playing here (as a 16-year-old) and coming back when I’m 20 to be captain is really special for me; it’s really special to be captain in my hometown.”
Higgins brings a wealth of experience back to junior A hockey. After playing the 2015-16 season for the Bearcats, the five-foot-10, 188-pound centre made the jump to the Quebec major junior league with the Halifax Mooseheads, where he has spent the past three years. Last season, he played in the Q-league final and the Memorial Cup in Halifax, where the Mooseheads lost 4-2 to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the championship game.
QMJHL teams are permitted to keep just three 20 year olds on their roster, and Higgins was notified by the Mooseheads this summer that he was being released by the team.
“I think this is a great place for Ben to be and I know that he’s going to have a great season, and us as a community are lucky to get him back here to watch him play,” said Bearcats coach and general manager Shawn Evans.
During his time with the Mooseheads, Higgins was a third- and fourth-line player and penalty killer. He chipped in offensively, firing 13 goals in his rookie campaign, while putting up a career-high 28 points last season on nine goals and 19 assists.
“I can play defense, penalty kill, but also I can generate offense with the power play and stuff like that, so hopefully I can get some goals and lead this team in the right direction.”
Which is what Evans is hoping for, as well, after a disappointing season for the Bearcats last year resulted in a fourth-place finish in the Eastlink South Division and first-round exit in the playoffs.
“He had more of a defensive role when he was in the Q, he got coached by some excellent coaches, so he learned the other side of the game, so what I’m hoping for now is that he can get back to what he was like when he was younger – he’s gonna have every opportunity to be an offensive force and find his scoring touch and I’m looking forward to watching him play.”
Higgins plans to be a captain who leads by example, both on and off the ice, and will be vocal in the dressing room when needed. He said the team has great potential and his expectations are to bring a Canadian Tire Cup championship back to Truro.
“That’s why I came back here.”
Forward G Blackmore has been named an alternate captain of the Bearcats.