2001-2002 Berwick Bruins Bantam ‘B’ Hockey Team
With only five returning players, the 2001-2002 Berwick Bruins Bantam ‘B’ hockey team had the unenviable task of living up to the previous year’s championship team.
One again, after playing off with other western Valley teams, Berwick was designated Bantam’B’. The team played 50 games, compiling an overall record of 27-17-9.
As had been the case the previous season, the Bruins again had two solid goalies, a big defense and a balanced attack. Five different players averaged at least a point a game, and 12 players reached double digits in the ‘plus-minus’ statistics.
Devan Leslie again led the team with 39 goals, but John Gillis, a converted defenseman, led in points with 60, a total that included 38 goals, only one fewer than Leslie.
Berwick participated in three tournaments during the season, including the Lunenburg Christmas Tournament and the Greenwood Bantam ‘A’ March Break Tournament, which helped the team raise its level of play just in time for provincials in Sydney Mines.
Just as the Bruins were starting to play well, tragedy struck when the mother of one of the players, Janet Ogilvie, passed away suddenly just before Christmas. After her funeral, the team was encouraged by her family to attend the Christmas tournament in Lunenburg.
While there, the Bruins suffered more setbacks. Brad Ueffing and Brennan Leslie both suffered broken arms, and Scott Lloyd sprained his arm a few days later.
Despite the adversity, Berwick was able to persevere and win the first three playoff rounds over Kentville, Canning and Cole Harbour. The final series win earned the Bruins the right to defend their provincial title in Cape Breton.
Berwick won all four of its round robin games against West Colchester, Sydney Mines, Inverness and Liverpool, and for a second straight year, would face Liverpool in the provincial championship game.
With the score tied 1-1 after one period, it had the makings of a barn-burner like the previous year, but Berwick broke things open with three second period goals en route to a 6-2 victory.
Chris Hirtle was named the tournament’s top goaltender, and Dennis Chisholm got the nod as the top defenseman. Hirtle, Chisholm and winger Devan Leslie were first-team all-stars, and Ueffing was named to the second team.
The Bruins certainly struck a chord with the fans in Sydney Mines. The arena was packed for the championship, and the entire Sydney Mines team was cheering Berwick on.
Near the end of the championship game, the referee-in-chief for the tournament approached the Bruins’ bench and told the coaches they had a real class act, and a team that Berwick and the surrounding area could all be proud of.
The 2001-2002 Bruins were skilled, but it was their teamwork, resilient nature and sense of fair play that allowed then to repeat as provincial champions.
Team members included Jens Currie, John Gillis, Jeremy MacEachern, Lucas Schurman, Brad Ueffing, Kyle Ogilvie, Devan Leslie, Dennis Chisholm, Chris Hirtle, Brennan Leslie, Mike Coolen, Daniel Toney, Scott Lloyd, Greg Coolen, Tyler McDonell, Alex MacEachern, Mike Dakin, head coach Randy Rockwell, assistant Brian Easson and manager Colleen McDonell.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the team category, the 2001-2002 Berwick Bruins Bantam ‘B’ hockey team.