The legs may be a bit tired and the hair more thin and grey, but the former members of the Blind River Beavers still hold a special place in the hearts of local hockey fans.
15 former members of the Beavers, from teams dating back to the early 1970s, laced up the blades last Sunday to compete against the current Beaver squad in Blind River’s version of the winter classic. Though the scoreboard read 7-4 in favor of the youngsters at the end of the contest, it was clear that the fans were divided in their loyalties between the stars of days gone by and the current edition of Blind River’s Junior “A” hockey team.
Organized by Beaver volunteers Linda Lamorie and Linda Makela, the game kicked off the official opening of Blind River’s new outdoor rink. The game also had the added attraction of current Beavers coaches Don Gagnon and Dennis Bolton competing against their charges.
After opening festivities had ended and the teams took to the newly constructed “frozen pond” , the alumni squad shocked their younger opponents by jumping into a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Bobby Seymour (Beavers 2007-08) and Rob Bazinet (a member of the International Junior “B” champion Beavers in 1976). However, the current Beavers soon found their legs and charged into a 3-2 lead by the first intermission on goals by Alex Lewicki, Zack Nadeau and Everett Mills.
Battling against age and the cold of a mid-winter afternoon, the veteran Beavers surrendered three more goals in the first ten minutes of the second period to fall behind 6-2. The greybeards refused to quit, and their pride was soon rewarded with goals by brothers Greg and Todd Beemer (Beaver veterans from the late 1970s and early 80s) to cut the deficit to 6-4.
That would prove to be as close as the alumni would get, however, as a goal by Brandon Major late in the second stanza put the current Beavers ahead 7-4. The teams battled through a scoreless third period before the younger version of the Beavers was declared the winner on this day.
Both teams received a flood of applause for their efforts in support of the new outdoor rink, which was built through donations of local Cameco employees as well as funding from the Trillium Foundation. As an added treats, the Beavers stars of today and yesterday were joined on the ice by the stars of tomorrow in the form of the Blind River Timbits, who put on a great show during the first intermission.
The members of the alumni Beavers squad to take part in the game were J.C. Labbe, John Shamas, Ross Jensen, Robin St. Jules, Dave Rainville, Jerry Jensen, Greg Beemer, Rob Bazinet, Pat Fallu, Jeff Bissaillion, Todd Beemer, Paul Talbot, Mike French, Bobby Seymour and Darren Rainville.