WOLFVILLE, NS - It was a skate down memory lane for Habs and Axemen hockey fans alike.
The Montreal Canadiens Alumni rolled into Wolfville on Oct. 13 to take on the Acadia Axemen Alumni at the Andrew H. McCain Arena. The game was part of the Canadiens alumni tour and part of homecoming weekend celebrations at Acadia University. Proceeds went to support the No Time for That Anti-Bullying Society and Acadia’s athletics programs.
The game was highly competitive, at times a seesaw battle. Acadia maintained the lead through the first and second periods and had a 3-2 lead going into the third, when the Canadiens alumni kicked it up a notch.
With a score of 7 to 5 for the Canadiens with a minute left on the clock, the Axemen alumni pulled the goalie for the man advantage. Guillaume Latendresse scored an empty-netter with 17 seconds left, resulting in a final score of 8 to 5 for the Canadiens.
Sporting a classic Canadiens jersey, Dave Perry of Cambridge said that although he rarely watches the Canadiens on TV anymore, he has been a fan for a long time. He decided it would be worthwhile to attend the game and see them live on the ice instead of on TV.
“Just seeing them live brings back some memories of watching them on Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday night, which I used to watch in the 1970’s, when it was a great time to be a Canadiens fan,” Perry said. “Since then, not so much.”
Although he was expecting to see more 70’s-era players and didn’t recognize all the names, the game brought back memories of goalie Richard Sévigny and his favourite on the alumni roster, Chris Nilan.
A Vezina trophy and Stanley Cup winner, Sévigny played eight years in the NHL with the Canadiens and Quebec Nordiques. Nilan played 13 years in the NHL, 10 with Montreal. The Stanley Cup winner holds the NHL record for most penalties in a single game with 10.
Perry said he wasn’t sure if a first-period scuffle in front of the Acadia bench that Nilan was involved in was “on the up-and-up” or just part of the show.
“He looked pretty serious, I must say,” Perry said.
He was also impressed with the showing of the Acadia alumni, who were on top of it anytime there was a loose puck and took the early lead.
Don Smith of Halifax attended the game wearing his Montreal jersey autographed by Chris Nilan. Smith said Nilan was his favourite on the Canadiens alumni roster, although he likes them all. He said everybody wants to beat the Habs and he was impressed with the showing of the Acadia alumni.
Smith grew up not far from the Montreal Forum. He attended a number of Stanley Cup parades for the Canadiens in the 1960’s and said it was a great time to be a kid in Montreal.
Smith said Nilan lived next to his friend’s place in Dorval, Quebec. Smith had Nilan’s book and a Montreal jersey so his friend took him over to meet Nilan and to get an autograph.
“Chris was great because he had just had implants in his mouth, so he was in pain but he was so good. He signed my jersey and my book and I was really happy,” Smith said.
Doug Fraser of Kentville has been a die-hard Habs fan for a long time. He can be seen frequently cycling in Kentville and New Minas with a bike he’s adorned with Canadiens symbols and flying a Habs flag.
He said he didn’t have a favourite on the Canadiens alumni roster: he likes them all. Fraser is always cheering for the Habs to “kick some butt”, whether it’s the alumni players or the current roster.
Fraser said enjoyed it when the Montreal alumni pie-faced Acadia’s Len Hawley during the first period.