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A salute to the West Colchester Commercial Hockey League


There are probably not many hockey leagues in Nova Scotia that can match the player calibre and competitiveness of the Labatt league out in Debert.
In a recent check of the LWCCHL standings, we found that the Engine Room, Faulkner Financial Group and Harris Home Hardware were all battling near the top of the A Division. Also within striking distance during early season play are The Fringe, Murphy's Fish & Chips and Power Centre Flyers.
Meanwhile in the B Division, McLellans Machine Shop, Mountain Golf Hitmen and Jet Cresting are all off to good starts. Following are MacKenzie's Towing, Zodiac Video Electronics, Sexton Auto Service and Multiserve Petroleum Equipment.
There are some real good hockey players listed in every team's lineup and we find that former Allan Cup star Sandy MacKenzie of Faulkner Financial Group is leading all scorers through four games with eight goals and seven assists. Nevin Fisher of McLellans holds second in scoring with 14 points; Shane Holman of Faulkner and John Blaauwendraat of The Fringe are tied with 11 points apiece, while ageless star Tony Hendsbee checks in with 10 points. The Engine Room's Levi Legge and Greg Cream round out the league's top scorers.
Matt Dickey of the Engine Room leads all goaltenders with a brilliant 1.30 goals against average. Brian Totten of Murphy's has a stingy 1.50 mark; Derek MacKenzie of MacKenzies checks in at 2.33 and Robbie Rushton of McLellans has a 2.73 GAA.
Add to the hockey caliber of these players already mentioned names such as Kelly Kolke, Brad Meech, Danny Hollett, Louie Smith, Dale Hart and Patrick Stewart and there's no question the Labatt league is capable of producing some great hockey.
Co-commissioners of the popular league this year are Derek MacKenzie and Ross Percy, who are doing a good job.
"Mike Schmidt was too busy because of work commitments and coaching minor hockey to continue overseeing the league, that's how Ross and I became involved," MacKenzie said.
"Mike, also a player with Zodiac Video, needed a break after being president for three years. I was interested in taking over if someone else would join me. Ross Percy and I talked it over. He became involved and to date things have gone pretty well. We have a competitive league but with each team sending a representative to our league meetings, we discuss matters sensibly and vote on anything of real importance."
While MacKenzie plays goal for MacKenzie's Towing and manages the team, Percy, who was born in Edmonton and grew up in Banff, is playing in his fourth season in the league. Following his marriage to the former Lori Ann Smith of Valley, the couple moved east.
We'll learn more about the member of the Murphy's team and MacKenzie next week when Sports Scene further explores the exciting Labatt West Colchester Commercial Hockey League.
My thanks go out to local sports sponsor Abdul Rafih. Abdul not only helped in correcting my error in last Saturday's column regarding hockey's Willie O'Ree, he assisted me in tracking down the former NHL player.
Reaching O'Ree Monday morning at the Fredericton Inn, I told him I was sorry for the mistake I had made in my sports column.
I told Willie that in receiving an e-mail late last week of a serious sickness to Willie O'Ree, I never imagined that there was a cousin by the same name. Studying the e-mail I received and never having heard of another Willie O'Ree, I made an honest mistake and thought it was the former professional hockey player whom I had known for more then 35 years.
The good news is Willie is healthy and going strong. My prayers are definitely with his cousin Mr. O'Ree in Ontario.
Willie told me he held two hockey clinics in Fredericton on Saturday. This is his 11th year being employed by the National Hockey League. His work is with underprivileged kids.
A piece of hockey history was recorded Feb. 1, 1958 when the Boston Bruins became the first National Hockey League team to dress a black player. Fredericton's O'Ree broke the NHL's colour barrier.
O'Ree also played for the Bruins in 1960-61. In later years, many black players followed in the steps of Maritimer Willie O'Ree.

Lyle Carter is a local freelance columnist who lives in Brookfield

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