Mike Thomas brings grit to Ceebees
Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars forward Mike Thomas is in a class all by himself in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.
It’s not that he is the only player on the provincial circuit with major junior experience. There are plenty of players who have played in the junior ranks and a number of them play with Thomas.
The thing that sets Thomas apart from his peers is his Memorial Cup.
Western ( formerly Corner Brook) Royals forward Mark Tobin lost out to the London Knights in the finals of the 2005 tournament with the Rimouski Oceanic, while Thomas’ teammate Doug O’Brien suffered back-to-back championship losses in 2003-04 with the Gatineau Olympiques.
The Fredericton, NB resident captained the Saint John Sea Dogs to the 2011 Memorial Cup — the
About Mike Thomas:
• Age — 22; • Hometown — Fredericton, New Brunswick; • Family — parents are Shane and Clara; has a younger brother, David; • Occupation — student at University of New Brunswick; • Position — left wing; • Nickname — Thommer Bomber; • Favourite player growing up — Paul Kariya; • Favourite team — Anaheim Mighty Ducks; • Pre-game meal — chicken parmesan and pasta; • Beer or wine — beer; • Top-3 artists on iPod — Steve Miller Band, Disturbed and Linkin Park; • Personal accomplishment — winning the Memorial Cup. crowning achievement for major junior hockey players in this country — a team that featured 12 National Hockey League draft picks, including Florida Panthers draftee Jonathon Huberdeau. Thomas was not drafted.
He has fond memories of the tournament.
“It was by far my most memorable experience in my hockey career,” he told The Compass last week.
That year, Thomas registered nine points (three goals and six assists) in 19 playoff games, including the Memorial Cup tournament.
The 22-year-old calls his memories from the four years he spent with the Sea Dogs some of the best he has in hockey.
“It’s just that the guys I did it with, and the coaching staff. The group we had on that team I’ll always keep close,” said Thomas, a six-foot-oneinch, 200-pound winger. “I’ll remember it forever.”
Thomas then moved onto the professional ranks when he signed to play with the Springfield Falcons for the 2011-12 seasons. He called the transition between major junior and the pros a “learning experience.”
Thomas called the gap between the two “pretty big.”
“It’s a lot faster game and there are really skilled players,” he said. “You’re playing with men.”
Although he bounced around for a bit, with stints in Chicago, Grand Rapids and Toledo, Thomas said the he “enjoyed” the experience.
Coming to the CeeBees
Thomas, like teammates Charles Lavigne and Robert Slaney, is coming to the CeeBees from the Atlantic University Sport ranks.
He is attending the University of New Brunswick, where he is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology. Coincidentally, Thomas and Lavigne are teammates with the Varsity Reds.
Where Thomas is coming off a pro contract, he is required to take a year off from participating in athletics with UNB.
“I was looking for a place to play and my coach got in touch with Corey (Crocker) and helped move things along,” he said.
Red’s coach Gardiner MacDougall had a hand in Lavigne’s connection with the CeeBees. Thomas said making the move to Harbour Grace easier is the presence of teammate Lavigne.
“It makes things easier for sure,” he said.
By the time this hits newsstands, Thomas will have three weekends of provincial senior hockey under his belt. He said he is “excited” to get the home opener underway.
“I hear the fans are rabid,” said Thomas.
One of the things that has Thomas excited about making his home debut is the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace.
“It has a lot of character, I heard,” he said.
While, Thomas knew very little about the NLSHL prior to signing with the CeeBees, he insists he “could not ask for more” of his new home.
“It’s a really good league, and I’ve had a lot of fun over there,” he said. “It was all new to me.”
Style of play
Thomas feels that his style of play will help contribute to the CeeBees success this season.
“I consider myself a grinder, who likes to score a little bit,” he said.
His coach, Corey Crocker, impressed.
“He’s just crashing and banging,” he said.
Thomas brings a lunch pail attitude to the rink, something he picked up during his four years in Saint John.
“Just playing your hardest. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, if you just play hard and do what you’re told … many times you end up winning,” he said. “I owe everything to Saint John.”
Newest CeeBee Mike Thomas (24) lines up for a faceoff alongside teammate Donnie Gosse against the Clarenville Caribous, Oct. 27 at the Clarenville Event Centre.
Mike Thomas looks for a pass during practice with the CeeBees last month at the Brother O’Hehir
Arena in St. John’s.