STELLARTON – It’s been a couple of years, but Taylor Davis still wears that #77 Crushers jersey like he owns it.
On the front step of Yvonne McChesney’s house in Stellarton, Davis sits with McChesney, his billet of one season, and Chess, a four-year-old, 130-pound English mastiff who used to keep Davis company when he wasn’t at practice or a game.
The native of Trenton, N.J., who turns 23 next month, spent his final year of junior with the Crushers during the 2015-16 season, a key two-way defenceman and quiet leader on a team that won the Maritime Hockey League championship.
“I wanted a chance to see Yvonne again, I loved her,” he explains. “And Chad (assistant coach and general manager McDavid) – I called him Uncle Chad because anything I ever needed, he did for me. Same with Yvonne.”
Arriving back in Pictou County on April 19, Davis spent a week with his former billet, where he once again played some street hockey with the neighbourhood kids, got to hang out with a few old friends with whom he once went to war (Mack Derraugh, Mike Lyle, Garrett Lambke and McDavid), sampled some of McChesney’s home cooking while seeing old familiar sights.
McChesney, who spoke of the billeting experience when a candlelight vigil was held at the Pictou County Wellness Centre after the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy in early April, said she wasn’t at all surprised that Davis would want to come back for a visit. “Oh, I knew he’d be here again. It’s just like he never left.”
With his girlfriend Jamie and their dog Sophia, Davis now lives in North Bay, Ont., where he played for the Nipissing University Lakers for one season and part of this past year, before deciding to stop playing hockey in order to concentrate on academics (Davis majors in gender studies, with a minor in business).
“It was probably the most positive year of my life,” Davis says of his time with the Junior A Crushers.
“This is a nice little town. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect back on some memories since I got here. Even driving by some of the places puts a smile on my face.”