Thursday, August 27th, 2009
Turning back the clockIt's been 30 years since Woodstock celebrated its only Junior C Ontario championship, but the memories were rekindled Wednesday.
A collection of players from the 1968-69 Navy Vets were together again during one of two alumni games to launch the club's campaign to return to its former name.
"That was fun," Cam Roberts said after the 1970s Navy Vets played alumni from the 1980s. "It would have been nice to have more guys out."
Roberts teamed with veteran goaltender Ken Kitching during the Navy Vets championship run.
"That was a tough championship to win," he said. "When you think about it, the Junior C championship is tough to win now because nobody has won it since in Woodstock."
Roberts was a fresh-faced 17-year-old rookie when the Navy Vets captured the city's imagination with their playoff run.
The 1968-69 Vets were stacked at all positions.
Up front, Scott Seagrist and Don Jones scored many of the team's goals.
On the blue-line, Don Carter, Brian Shelton and Dave McLaren were rock solid.
Roberts backed up Kitching and formed one of the league's best tandems.
"I was the young goalie coming up," Roberts said. "To be on that team, the hockey was unbelievable. The support from the people, we used to get 2,000 people (in the Perry Street arena). The Navy Vets in that era, the way you got treated ... was like a professional.
"To be able to be part of that team, you grew up with (them)."
Roberts took over the starting job in goal the next season. He was one of many returnees who led the Navy Vets to a Super C championship.
Woodstock defeated London, Kitchener and Oakville in a seven-game thriller to clinch the title. The Navy Vets' run came to an end against the Barrie Flyers.
"We had a great team," Roberts said. "A lot of the guys returned. It was like they didn't know where to put us in that league. A lot of those teams are Tier II today."
Several players from that Ontario championship team play together today with the Rusty Anchors. While they remain close on the ice, Roberts said many of his former teammates also share the belief that the Junior C club should return to the Navy Vets after two years as the Renegades.
"It should happen. That's the right thing," he said. "I don't know of anyone who wouldn't (want the change)."
Team owner Bill McLeod has expressed an interest in creating an alumni group, and Roberts said he was in favour of the idea.
"Put hockey back in Woodstock like it was when we played," he said. "We used to pack the arena but a lot of things have changed since then."
Alumni from the 1990s and 2000s also played, with several familiar faces in the lineups. Former Navy Vets/Renegades' head coach Derek Partlo suited up for the 90s team, as did current Norwich Merchants' head coach Chad Paton and assistant coach Scott Roode.
The 2000s team featured Josh Van Dyk, now with the University of Maine.