Friday, October 08th, 2010
"Merchants Game for Ben" tonight
It will be an emotional night when the Norwich Merchants play their first game without Ben Pearson.
After last Saturday's game in Woodstock was cancelled following Pearson's tragic death, the Merchants have taken the week to grieve and say goodbye to their friend and teammate. Tonight they take the ice for their first game without Pearson in front of what should be a large crowd at Nor-Del Arena.
A tribute to Pearson is planned before the game that will include family members. As of yesterday afternoon, more than 260 people had confirmed their attendance on a Facebook page entitled "Merchants Game For Ben".
Pearson's death has drawn attention from across the hockey community. Condolences have come from the Ontario Hockey Association, rival teams, former coaches and even people who never had a connection to Pearson.
The New Hamburg Firebirds will make their first trip to Norwich at 8 p.m. and should have their hands full against a motivated team in need of a release.
The Firebirds have been the early surprise this season, winning four of their first five games and outscoring everyone by a large margin. They have yet to face a top team like Norwich, however, so tonight will test their 4-1 record.
At Southwood Arena, the Navy Vets continue their search for a victory against the visiting Dunnville Terriers.
Woodstock, after losing 2-1 to Paris in its season opener, has struggled since. The Navy Vets are coming off consecutive losses to New Hamburg in which they were outscored 18-5.
"Put 15 rookies on any squad and there's going to be problems," Woodstock head coach Jeff Morrison said this week. "There's not really concern offensively. The defensive play, they haven't learned yet that you have to play defence at this level."
Dunnville is 2-1 this season, with both wins coming at home. Game time is 7:45 p.m.
Woodstock will travel to Chippawa Saturday to face River Hawks, who enter the weekend 0-3.
Team Note: the games are actually Saturday night hosting Dunnville and Sunday night in Chippawa.