(Editor’s Note: we take a look back at the major sporting events in Pictou County in 2019).
Jan. 5: Led by standout Glen Cox, who was named tournament MVP, the NRHS Nighthawks boys basketball team captured the first-ever New Year’s Basketball Tournament at their home gym. They defeated Avon View 96-57 in the tournament championship game. Cox would later commit to the UPEI Panthers program.
Jan. 12: The Weeks Hockey organization announced that they had reached agreement to sell the Junior A Crushers to Scott Burden and Bruce Ryan, of Newfoundland & Labrador. They would assume ownership on April 1.
Four-year head coach Doug Doull, who guided the team to a 2016 Maritime Junior Hockey league championship, would resign later in the month of April and ultimately accepted an offer to coach the Amherst Ramblers.
The Crushers would hire former NHLer Mike Danton as its new coach. Despite a mediocre start to the season, the Crushers turned it around in the month of November and December and are threatening to take over first place in the South Division as 2019 draws to a close.
Jan. 17: New Glasgow’s Cara MacDonald was named female bantam athlete of the year for 2018. Now 14, the middle-distance sprinter broke five indoor bantam records in 2018, competing in the 300m, 400m, 600m, 800m and 1000m.
Jan. 20: The Town of Stellarton hosted an open house to discuss the future of Stellarton Memorial Rink, a structure that is more than 70 years old and in need of millions of dollars’ worth of repairs to remain operational. A citizens group was formed – and given a year – to explore ways to keep the rink open, but as we ease into 2020, the future looks bleak for the old rink.
Jan. 30: The coaches of the Pictou County Junior Scotians resigned after the team was purchased by local entrepreneur Greg Burrows. Mike Stewart was later hired to coach the Junior B hockey club. The team would be eliminated in the first round of the NSJHL playoffs.
Feb. 9: Brody Blair ups his professional boxing record to 4-0, at a card held at the Halifax Forum. He took a unanimous decision over Mexican boxer Hector Sanchez.
Feb. 10: The Fundy Highland Subway Selects capture gold at the Sweetheart Hockey Tournament in P.E.I. The Selects went 5-0 in the tournament and won the championship game in a shootout.
Feb. 14: New Glasgow native Aliyah Fraser announces she had recently signed on with the St.FX University women’s basketball team, joining fellow New Glasgowegians Lucia MacKay and Jamie McCarron on the roster.
Feb. 20: Albion Boxing Club fighter Matt Fraser traveled to Red Deer, Alta. to compete at the 2019 Canada Games. Fraser, a former national champion, later lost in a gold medal match.
Mariposa East skaters Brooke Pennington, Cameron Boulter and Jailyn Elliott also took part at the Canada Games.
Feb 24: Pictou County Athletics captured its fourth straight Atlantic Club title in Moncton.
March 3: The Stellarton Midget C Royals captured a tournament in Pownal, P.E.I., besting 23 other teams from the host province, as well as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
March 7: The Junior A Crushers are officially eliminated from MHJL playoff contention after a home loss against the South Shore Lumberjacks. It was the first time the franchise had missed the post-season in its 17 years’ of existence.
March 9: The Trenton Steelers PeeWee team finished off an undefeated season by winning the Pictou County Minor Hockey Association’s Challenge Cup. The Steelers went 41-0-1 in the season, outscoring opponents 288-59.
March 10: Three-time world champion Canadian figure skater Elvis Stojko skated at the Pictou County Wellness Centre, as the Maripsao East program held its annual ice show, which also featured many of the local skaters.
March 10: The NNEC Gryphons girls’ hockey team hosted high school provincials, but went 0-3 in the tournament to finish out of the running. The C.P. Allen Cheetahs won a Nova Scotia title.
March 10: The Fundy Highland Subway Selects won the 2019 provincial Bantam AA championship with a 1-0 win in the title game. Ellie Clark supplied the only goal of the game for the Selects, who in April would win silver at Atlantics.
March 18: The Pictou County Peewee AAA Crushers showed plenty of heart in winning the Joe Lamontagne hockey tournament in Cole Harbour, N.S. They captured three straight elimination games, beating the East Hants Penguins 2-1 in the championship game, with Kaden Smith scoring both Crusher goals.
March 24: Stellarton native Blayre Turnbull and the Calgary Inferno won the Canadian Women’s Hockey League crown in Toronto. Turnbull had an assist in the 5-2 win over the Les Canadiennes. The league would later fold due to financial pressures.
March 30: Brody Blair improved his pro boxing record to 5-0 with a opponent three in the towel following the second round of the fight. The card was hosted at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
April 4: Three Pictou County athletes won major awards at the St.FX sports awards gala. Lucia MacKay was named the Rookie of the Year with the women’s basketball program, Jamie McCarron received the Coach’s Award for her play with the X-Women hoopsters, and Breanna Sandluck was named Rookie of the Year in cross country running.
April 7: Hosting the Peewee AAA hockey championship tournament, the Pictou County Crushers scored three times in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit and win a bronze medal against the King’s County Kings.
April 7: The Pictou County Lightning won gold at the U18 basketball provincials. The Lightning beat the Sou’West Bulldogs 90-82 in the title game and Glen Cox was named tournament MVP.
April 13: The Pictou County Bantam AA Crushes won silver at provincials, needing an overtime win in the semifinal game to get to the final. The locals lost 3-1 to the Halifax Hawks in the old medal contest.
April 13: The Midget A Crushers won a provincial gold medal, as Cam Lynds scored twice in the championship game, a 6-2 win over South Shore.
• Also in April, Albion Boxing Club members Carson Scholes (gold), Matt Fraser (gold) and Tivor Stewart (bronze) won medals at the 2019 Canadian Boxing Championships in Victoria, B.C.
• Meanwhile, as golfers started hitting the fairways at Abercrombie Golf Club, which in 2019 celebrated its 100th anniversary.
May 3: The Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation abruptly cancels the high school rugby season, leading to a severe backlash, which included an on-line petition that garnered around 30,000 signatures against the move. The decision was rescinded just days later and the ruby season carried on.
May 18: More than 300 fight fans filled Summer Street Industries in New Glasgow for a card hosted by the Albion Boxing Club. Local boxxers Connor Walsh, Rob MacLeod and Noah Thompson picked up wins during the card.
MAY 20: More than 230 runners signed up for the annual 2019 Joe Earle Memorial Day Road Races in Trenton.
MAY 25: New Glasgow siblings Ethan MacDonald and Cara MacDonald swept their events at the NSSAF track and field regionals. Cara MacDonald won the 200, 400 and 800 metre races, and Ethan MacDonald won the 1500 and 3000 metre running events.
JUNE 1: The NRHS Nighthawks rugby team, for years a doormat on the rugby pitch, won the school’s first ever girl’s provincial title, beating the Dartmouth High Spartans 19-15 in the Division 2 championship game. That same weekend, the NNEC Gryphon girls won a silver, and the school’s boys side lost in the crossover round. The Nighthawk boys team failed to qualify for crossovers, in trying to defend their 2018 NSSAF championship.
JUNE 1: Pictou Academy athlete Jenna Reid was a triple-medalist at track and field provincials, winning a bronze, a silver and a gold medal in the throwing events. Reid now competes for the track and field team at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
JUNE 8: Eight members of the Pictou County Mariners swimming team secured top-six finishes at the AA provincial meet held in Antigonish.
UNE 8-9: More than 275 players (31 teams comprised of kids ages four to 17), took part in the third annual ball hockey tournament at the West Side Community Centre (WSCC). The money raised is used to help fund upgrades for the centre.
JUNE 12, 14: Players and coaches with the St.FX football program held clinics for students at A.G. Baillie Memorial School and New Glasgow Academy.
JUNE 15, 16: Sunny skies greeted the more than 1,400 people who ran the 44th Johnny Miles Running Events Weekend in New Glasgow.
JUNE 24: The annual Summer Street Scramble golf tournament saw 33 teams withstand the rain at Abercrombie Golf Club. They collectively raised $294,000 to help support SSI programming.
July 6-7: At the Athletic Nova Scotia Legion trials, held at the Pioneer Coal track facility, a total of eight local athletes earned spots on the provincial team that would attend Legion nationals later in the summer. Eilidh Cameron (high jump), Keighan DeCoff (shot put, discus), Cara MacDonald (sprinter), Matthew MacLeod (javelin), Allie Sandluck (middle distance runner), Gabrielle Smith (javelin), Mattea Miller-Evans (high jump) and John Luke Taylor (sprinter) all qualified. and
July 14: The Stellarton Stingers U15 team powered their way to a gold medal at the annual Brian Jarvis Memorial fastpitch tournament at the Dorrington complex.
July 19 & 20: A celebration to mark the 50 years that East Pictou Rural High School’s existence was held, an event which included some of the provincial championship sports teams produced by the school.
Also in July:
• Team Cindy won the women’s division at the annual Harvey Dickson Memorial softball tournament in Trenton. A team from Glace Bay won the men’s division.
• The Municipality of Pictou Counthy announces they two complete sets of pickleball equipment to loan to people who want to try the sport.
• Heath Miller of Merigomish won a bronze medal in the javelin (junior division) at the Canadian track and field championships in Montreal.
Aug. 7: A team from Pictou County won a gold medal at the 60+ division at the 55 Plus Games in Antigonish.
Aug. 10: Driving for the King Racing team, based out of Pictou, Cassius Clark won his fifth Toromont Cat 250 at Scotia Speedworld. He is the most decorated driver in the event’s 20-year history.
Aug. 11: Keighan DeCoff wins a gold medal at the Legion track and field nationals in Sydney, N.S. Competing in the shot put event, DeCoff broke the U18 provincial record with a throw of 14.96 metres.
Aug. 18: Depending largely on shutdown pitching, the Stellarton Albions beat the Bridgewater Bulldogs 4-2 to win the provincial U15 baseball championship. The tournament was held at Sample Field in Stellarton.
Aug. 18: The Stellarton Stingerts U14 girl’s fastball team won a provincial championship, defeating Highland Park 12-1 in the final. The Stingers dominated their opponents, outscoring them by a combined 37-5. The U16 Stingers placed third at provincials.
Aug. 24: The New Glasgow Cubs needed extra innings to earn a 10-9 win in the final at the Nova Scotia U11 Tier 2 championships. The tournament was held in Bridgewater.
Aug. 24: The Kickin’ Vixens, Pictou County’s roller derby team, ended its season by splitting two bouts at their home rink in Trenton.
Also in August:
• New Glasgow baseball player Maddux MacKenzie played for Team Nova Scotia at the U13 baseball nationals, heled outside Montreal.
Sept. 12: The Junior A Crushers launch the 2019-’20 Maritime Junior Hockey League regular season with their home-opener, a 3-1 win over the Fredericton Red Wings. It marked the Crusher debut of defenceman Logan Vande Meerrakker, who scored two goals in the game.
Sept. 15: The New Glasgow DQ Blizzards went undefeated in five games to win the Atlantic U13 baseball championship. The tournament was played in Springhill, N.S.
Sept. 15: The U15 Stellarton Albions baseball squad, competing at the Atlantic championship tournament in Conception Bay North, N.L., went undefeated to bring home the banner back to Pictou County.
Sept. 16: The Nova Scotia School Athletics Federation officially puts the sport of rugby back on the NSSAF calender.
Sept. 19: Howie Beck, who umpired literally thousands of ball games since he started in 1979, says he has umpired his final game,
Sept. 21: The Westville Boxing Club hosts a card at Northumberland Regional High School in Alma. About 200 fight fans were in attendance.
Oct. 4: The Pictou County Scotians drop their Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League home opener, held at Trenton rink. The Scotians loses 2-1 against the Antigonish Bulldogs.
Oct. 24: Seven female hockey players on the Northern Subway Selects program were chosen to play for team Nova Scotia at the Atlantic Challenge Cup in New Brunswick. Those chosen for the U16 team were Sara Stewart, Ava Gennoe, Megan Smith and Abigail MacKenzie. Playing for the U18 team were Natalie MacKay, Landyn Pitts, and Allie Hood.The U16 won gold, the U18 team captured a bronze.
Oct. 19: The Pictou County Sports Hall of Fame holds its 2019 induction ceremony in Westville. The five teams honoured were the 1987 Stellarton Junior C Royals, the 1985 Trenton Munro Juniors, the Women Alike Abreast-A-River Dragon Boat Team, the Six Survivors (the 1932 New Glasgow Panthers senior men’s hockey team) and the Haylett Clarke-skipped furling rink which won the 1993 Canadian Senior Legion curling championship. Others inducted were:
• Joe Baker (auto racing)
• George “Stonewall” Jackson (multi-sport, posthumous):
• Joe O’Brien (harness racing, posthumous):
• Jon Sim (hockey)
• Vicki Cheryl (MacBeth) Turnbull (softball)
• Colin White (hockey)
• Alvin Sinclair (hockey coach)
• Eben MacIsaac (softball, posthumous)
• Lloyd “Suds” Sutherland (posthumous, multiple sports)
• Roger Swarbrick (rugby)
• Barry Wisener (hockey)
Oct. 23: Hockey Nova Scotia announces that the 2020 Bantam female hockey championships will take place in April, at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
Oct. 28: The NSSAF holds cross-country provincials at Trenton park. Ethan MacDonald of NNEC and Pictou Academy’s Luke MacDonald finished first and second respectively in the senior boys 6K run.
Nov. 2: The Pictou Old Puckers hockey team members gathered in Pictou to celebrate its 35th year. The team still plays twice a week at the Hector Arena in Pictou.
Nov. 5-10: The Pictou County Wellness Centre hosts the Grand Slam of Curling event, which featured the best curlers in the world. Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg won the women’s Tier 1 title, while the Tier men’s champion was Brad Jacobs. The opening night and the final day were sold out and the event enjoyed tremendous crowds throughout the week.
Nov. 8: The Junior A Crushers beat the Campbellton Tigers 4-0 in Campbellton, starring a six-game winning streak.
Nov. 10: Bryson Curries scores five goals as the Pictou County Weeks Major Midgets beat the Sydney Rush 11-1.
Nov. 16: Nine local boxers took part at a card hosted by the Albion Boxing Club at the NSCC in Stellarton. About 300 fans were in attendance.
Dec. 7: The Atom AA Crushers (Team White) win their division at the Allan Sullivan Memorial Hockey Tournament in Sydney.
Dec. 8: The Bantam A Selects female hockey team wins the KV Jingle Bell Tournament in New Brunswick.
Dec. 14: The New Glasgow Bombers Peewee C team tapes their hockey sticks with red tape prior to a game in Trenton. The team were showing support for a Cape Breton Indigenous player who was allegedly the target of racial slurs at a recent game.
SPORTS QUOTE OF THE YEAR:
“It’s an amazing feeling. We were always told we were horrible, that we would always lose. But it feels awesome to prove to everybody that we are more than what they thought we are.” – NRHS Nighthawks’ rugby player Abby Hendsbee, after her team won a provincial high school championship last spring.