New team in town

Fundy Thun­der com­pet­ing in provin­cial mi­nor midget AAA hockey league

Truro Daily News - - SPORTS - Lyle Carter Lyle Carter’s sports col­umn ap­pears weekly in the Truro News. If you have a story idea, con­tact him at 902-673-2857.

It was truly a real Cana­dian hockey scene – one that would have made a nice photo.

Fundy Thun­der play­ers en­tered the Colch­ester Le­gion Sta­dium re­cently for a supper-hour prac­tice. Most car­ried hockey bags, some had sticks. The ex­pres­sions on their faces told the story – these young play­ers were keen to hit the ice.

The Thun­der, play­ing out of the sta­dium, are the new­est en­try in the eight-team Nova Sco­tia Mi­nor Midget AAA Hockey League. Lo­cal sports­man Jeff Oderkirk has taken on the spon­sor­ship of the first-year club and his wife Brandi is the di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions.

“Our own kids have been in­volved in mi­nor hockey for about 12 years,” Brandi said. “We thought that giv­ing young play­ers an op­por­tu­nity to play in this league was a good idea, it fo­cuses on the de­vel­op­ment of play­ers around 15 years of age. These play­ers will be able to de­velop their skills while im­por­tantly play­ing with kids their own age.”

Brandi, Jeff and the team’s coach, Tim Macum­ber, ap­proached Hockey Nova Sco­tia with a plan for an eighth team to play out of cen­trally-lo­cated Truro.

“We will play our home games at the sta­dium Satur­day nights at 7.30, we have 13 play­ers from the Truro area, we also have play­ers from Pic­tou County and Cum­ber­land County.”

The Thun­der opened the sea­son with a 4-3 home ice win over Val­ley Wild­cats. Two losses fol­lowed and then came a 4-0 road-vic­tory Sun­day over Sackville, evening the team’s record at 2-2.

“The game was score­less un­til half­way through the sec­ond pe­riod,” 15-year-old de­fence­man Jake Bol­ger said. “We took a 1-0 lead and it stayed that way un­til the third pe­riod. We broke the game open with two goals, we scored our last goal into an empty net. Ash­ton Cut­ten was in goal for the shutout.”

Bol­ger, who has also seen ac­tion this sea­son with Pic­tou County Weeks Ma­jor Midgets, played last year with the Truro Bearcats in AA ban­tam. In 2016-17, he played ma­jor ban­tam Bearcats.

“I’ve been play­ing hockey pretty well my whole life, I’ve made a lot of friends and I re­ally en­joy the com­pet­i­tive­ness of play­ing in big games. I plan to stay in hockey, I want to play the top cal­i­bre that I can.”

Jake Ste­wart is also a 15-year-old de­fence­man and played the past two sea­sons with the AA ban­tam Bearcats.

“I’m find­ing this league to be faster,” Ste­wart said. “There’s lots of skill on ev­ery team, I find the teams all have good depth. I’m en­joy­ing play­ing in this league a lot, we have a great group of guys and we get along re­ally well to­gether. With our team spirit – we’ll do okay.”

Be­sides hockey, Ste­wart plays soc­cer for Cobe­quid Ed­u­ca­tional Cen­tre.

Kyran Bur­ton, a cen­tre/left­winger, played the past two sea­sons with the Bearcats in

AA ban­tam. Also a 15-year-old – like Ste­wart and Bol­ger – Bur­ton is a Grade 10 stu­dent at CEC.

“The level of hockey in AAA mi­nor midget is much more com­pet­i­tive,” Bur­ton told me. “This is a good op­por­tu­nity to get bet­ter for fu­ture years, the play­ers are much big­ger this year and I find the speed quite a bit more in­tense. We have a lot of good lead­ers on our team, the coach­ing is mag­nif­i­cent, we are be­ing pushed to get bet­ter. I feel al­ready -- that we are im­prov­ing our play.”

Macum­ber has en­joyed a great sports back­ground. An out­stand­ing pitcher and first-base­man in fast­pitch ball, he has played for two Cana­dian se­nior cham­pi­ons, and also starred in one ISC world cham­pi­onship win. In 2010, Macum­ber played for Team Canada when they won the Pan Am Games.

A for­mer Nova Sco­tia Se­nior Hockey League player with Bridge­wa­ter, Macum­ber has coached mi­nor hockey for sev­eral sea­sons.

“With this be­ing a first-year fran­chise, we didn’t know what to ex­pect,” Macum­ber said. “We had a great turnout for our first try­out and it’s gone from there. We have a lot of qual­ity kids, this is a great league for them to de­velop in. The league is re­ally cen­tred around get­ting 15- and 16 year-old play­ers ready for the next level of hockey.”

Macum­ber’s as­sis­tant coaches are Al­lan Porter, who coached sev­eral of the Thun­der play­ers in AA ban­tam, Mark Simms and Kevin Dun­levy.

Brandi Oderkirk, the Fundy Thun­der di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions, dis­plays a team jer­sey.

Mem­bers of the Fundy Thun­der hockey team, from left, Jeff Oderkirk, Jake Ste­wart, Jake Bol­ger, Kyran Bur­ton and Tim Macum­ber.

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