Thom­mer Bomber

Mike Thomas brings grit to Cee­bees

The Compass - - P2012ORTHTE - THE COM­PASS BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.”

Go­ing pro

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.

First im­pres­sions

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.

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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.”

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Sarah Bur­ton/transcon­ti­nen­tal Me­dia

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.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Mike Thomas looks for a pass dur­ing prac­tice with the Cee­Bees last month at the Brother O’Hehir

Arena in St. John’s.

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