This evening, young, old and ancient will gather in Waterloo, Ont., for a reunion weekend to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the local junior B team called the Siskins. It should be quite a gathering, beginning with the Siskins' 2009-10 home opener against the Elmira Sugar Kings at the Hauser Haus.
Even though I moved from Waterloo to Toronto almost 25 years ago, the Siskins remain close to my heart. My Dad, Bill, played a pivotal role - at least that's the way he tells it - as a centre for the Siskins when they partied long into the next day after beating Harry Neale and the Weston Dukes to win the 1953-54 Sutherland Cup for the club's second of a record 11 provincial championships.
When old enough, I looked forward to visiting the old barn, Waterloo Memorial Arena, for a Siskins match on a Friday or Sunday evening more than travelling to Toronto to witness a Leafs game at Maple Leaf Gardens. It was always easier to follow a winner, and the Siskins have won four provincial titles since the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup in 1967.
As a kid growing up, my heroes were not Darryl Sittler or Bobby Orr, but former Siskins Mike Yosurack and Marc Thiel. I see as part of the weekend festivities Doug Thiel is being added to Waterloo's Hockey Wall of Fame along with other worthy local leading men in hockey Kevin Brown, Charlie Brooker, Wayne Clairmont, Jack Egers, Wayne Gowing, Wayne Litzgus and Albert McCormick.
The Siskins won Sutherland Cups in 1939-40, 1953-54, 1955-56, 1959-60, 1961-62, 1963-64, 1983-84, 1984-85, 1987-88, 1990-91 and 1993-94. Many of my friends growing up played on those guts-and-glory teams in the early-to-mid 1980s. Guys like Tim Fedy, Al Kimmel, Chris Lang, Todd Loveday, John McKerrow, Jeff Sittler and - oh yeah, I better mention Terry McCutcheon to avoid another of his witty e-mails.
I'm in debt to these guys for providing some memorable and exciting times and we all should be so lucky to have been mentored by three unsung heroes in Peter Brill, Jerry Harrigan and Rich Ennis - the general manager, coach and trainer/psychotherapist of the Siskins, respectively.
Here's hoping Bruce Springsteen's Glory Days is blaring this weekend and you guys party like in the spring of 1984 and 1985.