Timmins Rock assistant captain Grant McClellan models the Timmins Golden Bears jersey he will wear Saturday night when the Powassan Voodoos visit the McIntyre Arena, while he and Rock president Ted Gooch hold up one of his teammate’s sweaters. Fans will have a chance to purchase the game-worn, autographed jerseys during a week-long online auction, which begins at noon on Saturday. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock will be sporting a fresh new look when they host the Powassan Voodoos Saturday night at the McIntyre Arena.
Rock players will be decked out in their alternate Timmins Golden Bears jerseys when the puck drops at 7 p.m. for the NOJHL contest.
The Rock franchise, of course, began life as the Golden Bears back in the 1991-92 season, before it moved to Iroquois Falls after the 1998-99 campaign and became the Jr. Eskis and then Eskimos.
Dozens of players wore the Golden Bears jerseys during the eight years the franchise operated out of the Archie Dillon Sportsplex, including a pair who went on to NHL fame — current Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager Steve Sullivan (1991-92 Golden Bears) and Vancouver Canucks goaltending coach Dan Cloutier (1992-93 Golden Bears).
Rock president Ted Gooch confirmed a number of former Golden Bears players will be introduced during a pre-game ceremony Saturday night.
“The response has been great so far,” he said.
“We sent out an invitation to all of the alumni of the club and we know of about 10 players who have committed to being part of the pre-game ceremony.
“In addition, the former president of the Golden Bears, Mike Kentish (grandfather of current Rock forward Evan Kentish-Stack) will be there to represent the club.”
Any chance Sullivan might be one of those players attending Saturday night’s contest?
“We know his schedule is very tough right now, with this being mid-season, but we extended an invitation to him,” Gooch said.
“We have not, to this point, been able to confirm whether or not he will be here.”
One of the former Golden Bears stars who has confirmed he will return to Timmins for the ceremony is Jimmy Ratte (196), who ranks second in franchise history to Andrew Bain (269) in terms of points.
Ratte’s 119 goals also rank second to Bain’s franchise record 125.
In terms of individual seasons, the 59 goals Ratte scored in 44 games during the 1992-93 season ranks ties him with Derek MacNair for second place behind Sullivan’s franchise best 66 scored in 47 games during the 1991-92 campaign.
Ratte, a native of Fauquier-Strickland who now lives in Sault Ste. Marie, also spent time in the OHL with the Greyhounds and the Sudbury Wolves.
The Golden Bears jerseys the Rock will wear on Saturday feature the blue, gold, red and white colour scheme employed by the NHL’s St. Louis Blues from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.
At one point in the franchise’s history, it switched to the blue, black, gold and white colour scheme employed by the Washington Capitals in the late 1990s.
“One of the players who will be coming back for the ceremony will be wearing one of the old Washington Capitals-styled jerseys,” Gooch said.
“He still has his old jersey, so fans will be able to see what it looked like, as well.”
Gooch noted the idea has of introducing a third jersey has actually been brewing for pretty much the whole season.
“Back in September, the board of directors asked themselves what would be something neat we could do an one of the ideas was to introduce an alternate jersey,” he said.
“We love the idea, because if gives us a chance to incorporate the franchise’s history.
Should the Rock finally upset the Voodoos Saturday night, is there any chance fans might see the alternate jerseys in action again this season?
“We may need to,” Gooch said.
“We have a lot of very superstitious hockey players and if we beat the Voodoos we may have to look at that.”
That might prove a little tricky, however, as the jerseys worn by the Rock players will be signed by the players and auctioned off following the game.
“There will be an online auction, which will go live on Saturday at noon and run for a full week,” Gooch said.
“Fans will be able to go on our website, see all of the jerseys up for auction and bid on them. They will be able to own a piece of history.
“If we are able to raise between $2,000 and $3,000 through this auction, we will be happy.”
Rock assistant captain Grant McClellan got a sneak preview of the new jerseys Friday morning at the McInyre Arena and he liked what he saw.
“I am really impressed,” he said.
“They look really nice. I think we are going to look real classy out there Saturday night. I am sure we will wear them with pride.”
To say the Timmins players have been looking forward to rocking their new threads might be a bit of an understatement.
“There has been a lot of excitement in the room,” McClellan said.
“There has been a lot of anticipation. The guys have really been talking about it. Everyone is really fired up.”
Might the Golden Bears jerseys give the Rock an edge against the Voodoos?
“They might throw them off a little bit, but we are just going to go out there and play our game,” McClellan said.
“If we play a hard style of hockey and stay focused for 60 minutes, we will get the job done.”
The Rock, who took on the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake Friday night, will be playing their second game in as many nights, while the Voodoos, who tangled with the Lumberjacks in Hearst Friday night, will be wrapping up a three-game road trip.
The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.
Assuming things go well, the Rock will likely look at hold a similar third-jersey game again in the future.