Coach sends strong message

Joe MacIntyre
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After Summerside native suffers serious injury in AUS men’s hockey game

Hockey is a competitive game that sometimes brings out the worst in players.

Troy Ryan behind the St. Thomas Tommies’ bench during an Atlantic University Sport Men’s Hockey Conference game against the UPEI Panthers at MacLauchlan Arena last season. Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer

Brad Smith of Summerside plays for the Saint Mary's Huskies of the Atlantic University Sport Men’s Hockey Conference, and most likely had his season all but come to an end in a recent game against the St. Thomas Tommies.

Smith was on his way to the bench after finishing his shift, and was speared in the feet on the fly by St. Thomas player Alexander Leduc.

The end result had Smith crashing into the boards, breaking his ankle and surgery resulted. Leduc was given a double minor for spearing and a game misconduct on the play. Smith is left hoping for a very late-season return, but more likely next year, especially with the short AUS season.

What stings even more is the fact that Smith is in his fourth year, and may have played his last game of AUS hockey.

Leduc had received a hit on that shift that he didn't like, and retaliated on the first player he saw, which was Smith.

Injuries happen and are a part of the game, but there is no place for this stuff, and obviously St. Thomas head coach Troy Ryan feels the same way. He has suspended his player indefinitely, and Ryan deserves a ton of credit for doing so. More coaches should do the same, which would help clean up some of the dirty play that sometimes is so prevalent in today's game.

Ryan said  that there was no place for such play in the league, and if more coaches were like him a lot of these concussions and other injuries would not be so frequent.

If there is good news out of this story, it is the fact that maybe more players will think twice about such actions, and maybe more coaches will feel the same way as Ryan about taking their own players to task for dirty play.

Ryan is no stranger to Prince County fans as he coached in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) for a number of years before joining the Tommies last season.

Curling

Suzanne Birt and her curling rink are in Brantford, Ont., this weekend for the first stop on the Grand Slam of Curling Tour. Teams from all over the world are looking for a share of the more than $200,000 in prize money.

The tour also has stops coming up in Kelowna, B.C., and Port Hawkesbury, N.S., before finishing with the Player's Championship in April in Toronto. Summerside hosted the Players’ Championship last April.

This is a big year for Birt and her rink of third stone Shelley Bradley, second stone Sarah Fullerton and lead Leslie MacDougall. Events like this weekend's kind of sets the table for how a team plays the rest of the year.

Good competition and playing well against that competition gives a team a lot of confidence going forward, and Birt's team is looking to play well this weekend.

Fullerton has taken the place of Robyn MacPhee, who has taken the year off. By adding Fullerton, a three-time provincial junior champions, Birt has added one of the best young curlers in the province.

Fullerton joining the Birt team has kind of a unique story with it. Back when Birt, formerly Gaudet, was winning all those provincial titles and world title some 10 years ago, Fullerton was a young girl just starting out in curling. She really looked up to Birt and her team, and has followed their progress over the years.

I'm told, in some ways, Fullerton kind of idolized Birt, which makes for a good story some 10 years later. 

Harness racing

Terry Gallant has had a great deal of success at the harness racing game as a trainer and driver. He seems to have the knack of getting the best out of a horse and getting horses back to the track after injury.

He may be best known locally for the success he had with Outlawpositivcharg. Those around the track can't help but notice Gallant and his latest success story – a horse by the name of Proven Lover.

The horse has had a great past, but suffered an injury early this year. Gallant took the reins this past summer, and has the horse back and in top form. Just two weeks ago, Proven Lover scorched Charlottetown in an impressive 1:53:2 wire-to-wire win, and followed up last weekend with a 1:55:2 victory.

Going in 1:53-and-change in July is one thing, but doing it in November is really quite another. It looks like Proven Lover has a proven trainer and driver in Terry Gallant.

Baseball

“How about those Blue Jays?,” was the phrase that longtime Blue Jays’ announcer Fergie Oliver used to repeat over and over back in the ‘80s. It was kind of irritating after awhile, but Jays’ fans may be on the verge of hearing that phrase again.

The big blockbuster trade this week that netted the Jays three front-line players was what one would call reaping the benefits of a fire sale. Mark  Buehrle and Josh Johnson would be in any team’s top two or three starting pitchers. Jose Reyes is one of the best shortstops in the game ,and brings with him a complete package of talent. Remember Tony Fernandez?

Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos deserves a pat on the back for this trade as it makes Toronto instant contenders, and brings back some of that credibility and respect this organization had back when they were winning World Series titles in the early ‘90s.

After seeing some games at Rogers Centre this past summer, I left thinking about how much enthusiasm there was for this young but talented Jays team.

There is little doubt that this trade will only heighten that enthusiasm, and hopefully for Jays’ fans those Glory Days of the ‘90s are about to return. 

Have a great week!

Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to j-mac@eastlink.ca.

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport Men, Maritime Junior Hockey League, Blue Jays Rogers Centre

Geographic location: Summerside, St. Thomas, Saint Mary Toronto Prince Brantford Kelowna Port Hawkesbury Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Timm
    November 17, 2012 - 19:01

    Troy Ryan is a first class guy, played his junior hockey in Halifax for Jim Bottomley, both tough characters in their own right. Troy played at UNB and St Mary's. Mired in an 11 game losing streak to start the season, he would do the same tomorrow, that is the kind of guy he is.

  • Rita Arsenault
    November 17, 2012 - 08:35

    I am very proud of that coach if he benched that player.To me he should not play the rest of the year..Injuries are not fun but when they are done purposely and referees leave some of them go that is what happens...There should be at least 2 refs.per games....Even in minor hockey...AA's ..AAA's Lots of stuff is done behind the main ref..I havce been going to hockey games for the past 30 years have seen a lot behind the refs back..Maddening.....