Hundreds returning for Bobcat hockey reunion

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Courtesy:  Brandon University News Release

BRANDON – Ninety-three years of hockey history will be celebrated next month at Brandon University and BU Athletics is thrilled with the expected turnout of familiar faces.

BU will be welcoming home over 270 alumni and guests for a special Bobcat men's hockey reunion on November 4-5.

Hockey on campus first started in 1909 at Brandon College and continued until the university program came to a close in 2002.

Bobcat and Brandon College Caps alumni left a lasting legacy and BU Athletic Director Russ Paddock feels it is important to celebrate their accomplishments.

"This event is a longtime coming for our hockey alumni," said Paddock. "The bond created by our hockey alumni is unbreakable and the feedback we have received about the reunion shows that. They have a special place in our history that deserves full recognition."

Former players, coaches and staff are travelling near and far to attend the festivities including Rod Winkler. He played with the Bobcats for two seasons from 1979 to 1981 and is coming from Europe to attend.

After completing his BU playing career, Winkler played nine seasons professionally in Norway. He currently lives and works in Asker, Norway and Geneva, Switzerland and he is looking forward to returning for the reunion.

"I wanted to see some of the best guys I have been around on and off the ice," said Winkler. "Just seeing the guys one more time, it is a hard thing to pass up."

Winkler, who is originally from Milestone, Sask., looks back fondly at his time with the Bobcats. In 1980-81, he helped BU capture a GPAC (Great Plains Athletic Conference) championship, while being ranked #1 in Canada.

"I feel we were pretty well unstoppable that year," added Winkler. "Looking back, you only have a few moments in your career when the timing is just right and you are fortunate to be on a team like that."

The Bobcat hockey reunion coincides with the first home games of the 2016-2017 Canada West season with the volleyball teams in action against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.

Alumni attending the home opener on Friday will have the chance to register for the reunion. Hockey memorabilia will also be on display as former Bobcats and College Caps enjoy a meet-and-greet.

A nostalgic filled Saturday is planned with alumni games scheduled for the Sportsplex. The 50-and-older game starts at 1 p.m. followed by the 49-and-younger contest. The public is encouraged to attend the alumni games with free admission.

1996-97 CIAU rookie of the year Grady Manson and former NHL'er Tim Lenardon are among the 80 players lacing up the blades one more time in the classic Bobcat blue and gold colours.

"It will be a great honour and privilege to wear the Bobcat jersey again," said Lenardon. "It will be great to see all the former players and friends back in Brandon."

"I am looking forward to wearing the Bobcat jersey one more time and catching up with some of the other players that will be at the alumni game," said Manson. "The one season I played with BU was special as I got the chance to play at home after junior hockey."

Fellow all-Canadians Peter Gerlinger, Rich Little and Tim Morrison are also expected to play.

Once the alumni games are complete the alumni will return to the Healthy Living Centre for the Saturday volleyball matches at 5 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. The alumni will be officially recognized at the matches.