Ramblers enter playoff series as underdog to Crushers' Goliath
AMHERST, N.S. – As the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers prepare to enter their first playoff run in three seasons they can’t help but think of the classic tale of David vs. Goliath.
Tournament begins Friday and concludes Sunday
AMHERST, N.S. – Corey Bates and Nick Merrill were practically born with a hockey stick in their hands.
Both grew up playing minor hockey in the Cumberland County Minor Hockey Association and with the former Fundy Phantoms franchise in the Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League.
Nick and Corey were huge sports fans, they loved hockey and baseball. When Corey was growing up he always had a hockey stick in his hand and he made great friendships through his experiences in both hockey and baseball. This is a great way to carry their memory forward. Kathy Lake
It’s only fitting that the CCMHA’s closing tournament is now named in honour of the two young athletes who were killed in a tragic car crash near Amherst in August 2007.
“It’s very special and means so much to all of us. We’re all pumped about this because we know how much hockey meant to both of them,” Ian Merrill said. “We were honoured when minor hockey approached us about naming the tournament in their honour.”
The Corey Bates-Nick Merrill Friendship Tournament will kick off at three Cumberland County arenas on Friday and conclude with championship games in the atom, peewee bantam and midget C divisions on Sunday.
Thirty-two teams from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will compete in the tournament including eight teams in the peewee and bantam divisions, seven in atom and nine in midget.
For most of the teams the tournament will represent the conclusion of the 2016-17 minor hockey season.
The tournament is the latest community endeavour of the society that was set up soon after Bates and Merrill were killed. The society has sponsored a number of community initiatives throughout Cumberland County, including supporting little league baseball and bantam and midget baseball, as well as minor football and minor hockey – including its support for the Tim Hortons Timbits division.
The society has also provided funding for minor hockey registration and purchased both goalie gear and gear for players.
The money is raised through the annual slo-pitch tournament at the Robb Complex in the summer.
Merrill estimates close to $70,000 has been donated by the society.
“Nick and Corey were huge sports fans, they loved hockey and baseball,” Bates’ mother Kathy Lake said. “When Corey was growing up he always had a hockey stick in his hand and he made great friendships through his experiences in both hockey and baseball. This is a great way to carry their memory forward.”
What’s also special, Merrill said, is a number of their sons’ friends now have children of their own, some of whom are playing in the tournament.
Minor hockey president Jason Rhinas said he’s pleased to have the support of the Bates-Merrill foundation. He knows how much hockey meant to both players and it’s fitting that their memory and legacy will continue long into the future.
“Minor hockey is so appreciative of the Bates-Merrill society for its support of our program. They have done so much to support minor hockey and other minor sports activities in our community,” Rhinas said. “It just seems right to have this tournament named in their honour.”
The championship games are Sunday at the Amherst Stadium with the atom game at 12:40 p.m., the peewee game at 1:55 p.m., bantam at 3:10 p.m. and midget at 4:25 p.m.
For the complete schedule go to: ccmha.goalline.ca .
Corey Bates-Nick Merrill Friendship Tournament
Atom: Cumberland Bobcats, Cumberland Rams, Cumberland Wolves, Moncton Flyers, Dieppe Aigles, Riverview Dragons, Thorburn Golden Hawks.
Peewee: Cumberland Ramblers, Keswick Valley Stars, Shediac-Cap Pele Capitols, Oromocto Predators, Moncton Panthers, Chebucto Crunch, Dieppe Aigles, Bridgetown Hawks.
Bantam: Cumberland Ramblers, Brookfield Elks, Sydney Steelers, Oromocto Kings, Sackville Rangers (N.B.), Dieppe Aigles, Keswick Valley Islanders, Shediac-Cap Pele Capitols.
Midget: Cumberland Ramblers, Thorburn C1, Thorburn C2, Riverview Blues, Kent Sud Flames, West Colchester Cobras, Sackville Rangers (N.B.), Cape Breton.