Bearcats ready to roll
Truro visits reigning champion Yarmouth to open new MHL season
TRURO, N.S. – The Truro Bearcats don’t exactly ease into the new Maritime Junior Hockey League season.
The Bearcats hit the road to Yarmouth on Friday to open the 2019-20 campaign against the reigning league-champion Mariners – the first of four road games to start the season. They won’t play their home opener until Sept. 28 when they host the Valley Wildcats.
“I like the group,” said Bearcats coach Shawn Evans. “I don’t want to compare years, this is a new year, but I like the makeup of the team, I like the makeup of personalities.”
Many new faces dot the Truro lineup – a mix of young and veteran talent, who will be counted on to turn the team into a contender once more after a disappointing 2018-2019 season in which the Bearcats finished fourth in their division and suffered an early playoff exit at the hands of the rival Mariners.
“I think we have more speed than we have previously,” said Evans. “I think we’ve got a little more skill, and it’s a team, and it’s more than half a new team from last year and they’re excited and they’re bringing some good energy to the rink.”
The Bearcats have 22 players on their roster. Their most recent addition is 18-year-old forward Matt Gordon, who was recently cut from the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec major junior league. Gordon played junior B last season in Cambridge, Ont.
“We’re excited to have him,” said Evans. “We think he’s a good, young, skilled hockey player.”
The Bearcats sent local defenceman Tanner Greatorex back to major midget in Pictou County late last week. Greatorex was one of Truro’s territorial selections, who acquitted himself well during training camp.
Veteran goaltender Alec Macdonald will start between the pipes on Friday. He will share the net during the early going with Aidan Dunford. The Bearcats added goalie Sébastien Plamondon this summer, however, he is currently sidelined with a broken knuckle.
Seven players on this year’s Truro roster are from Colchester County – Carson Lanceleve, Luke Macmillan, G Blackmore, Ben Higgins, Marc Aucoin, Ben Fraser and Macdonald.
A recent interview with Seth Macpherson at the TAAC Grounds was all positive.
Macpherson has enjoyed quite a baseball season and it’s not over yet. The young catcher, who also plays other positions, batted well over .400 during 2019 and belted a couple of homeruns, as well.
“I learned that Springhill Fencebusters have picked me up for Atlantics,” Macpherson, 13, of Bible Hill, said. “It was pretty cool learning another team feels you can make them better. My nerves should be pretty good; I was to Atlantics with Truro Bearcats in under 11 AAA mosquito in 2016. We did well, finishing second.”
Macpherson and his new Springhill teammates will bid for the U13 AA Atlantic championship, hosted by Springhill, Sept. 13-15.
“I feel pretty good as I’ve played against and know many of the Springhill players. This is good and I know they have an awesome coach.”
While discussing his Truro Bearcats team, Macpherson commented on the recent provincial championship played in Dartmouth. The Bearcats went 3-0 in round-robin play, and were later eliminated by Springhill in playoff action.
“Even before provincials our Bearcats team had been on some streak,” said Macpherson. “We had won a crazy number of games in a row, something like 13. I felt we were a strong team during provincials, we hit the ball well, our “D” was strong and every one of our games was close. We had a good chance of going all the way, but sometimes you need a little luck, that’s how it is in baseball.”
Another part of Macpherson’s dream season and an outstanding summer saw him selected to play for Nova Scotia in the Canadian U13 baseball championship in Repentigny, Que. In representing his province, Macpherson had a RBI double and a couple other base hits.
“That was my first nationals. I caught, I played shortstop and the outfield. It was awesome seeing all those big teams from the other provinces. It was also nice playing on the best U13 baseball team from N.S. My Bearcats teammate Eli James, of Valley, also played for the provincial team. Eli is a first-baseman and a good pitcher. We’d both love to get back to nationals.”
Macpherson developed an early interest in baseball.
“I remember swinging a bat when I was really young,” he said. “I remember always coming and watching Truro Bearcats senior games when my father (James Macpherson) was coaching and my uncle (Joe Macpherson) was playing. My first ball was in T-ball, next I played novice and then mosquito baseball.
“Dad put in hours with me in the back yard, he coached me around nine years. Joe has helped me a lot too, especially with my swing. I really appreciate all the help I got from my father and my uncle Joe.”
Continuing to talk baseball (and sports) like a veteran, the Grade 8 Bible Hill Junior High student advised.
“What attracts me to baseball is getting dirty and I enjoy competition. I like being part of a team, I get close with my teammates. In hockey, I play centre. I’m trying out with the Truro Bearcats bantam AA team, we’ve began conditioning.”
Seth’s father James coached senior baseball with the Bearcats for five years. He was named Nova Scotia senior baseball’s co-coach of the year in 2005. His many seasons coaching minor baseball includes his mosquito Bearcats winning a provincial title in 2016 and earning a silver medal at Atlantics. “As a kid, getting on a baseball field was great and that feeling continues today, James, 45, said. “Seeing the kids get a chance to play baseball, as long as they will have me, I’ll keep coming.”
James’s brother and Seth’s uncle Joe broke into senior baseball with the Bearcats in 1995. He starred up until 2013 and in his last at-bat in senior baseball, his opposite field double led to an RBI which tied him for the league lead in that department.
Returning to baseball in recent years, Joe helped Truro D&D Bookkeeping Bearcats win the N.S. intermediate AA baseball championship during late August.
“It’s all about Seth,” Joe, 39, told me. “He’s way beyond his years as a ball player, he’s getting stronger in everything. Seth and I have had 20-minute catches over the years, we talk baseball, it’s always baseball.”
Alec Macdonald will get the nod on Friday in the crease when the Bearcats play their Maritime Junior Hockey League season open in Yarmouth.
The Macphersons continue to leave their mark in baseball. From left, Joe Macpherson, Seth Macpherson and James Macpherson.