So, last night was the American Hockey League All-star game from Toronto. Plenty of WHL alumni representation, even former Bronco Jason Jaffray is on the squad. Other former WHL snipers Clark Macarthur, Dustin Boyd, Troy Brouwer and Thomas Fleischman fill a spot on the exclusive roster.
Hey, who's that in the starting line-up for Team Canada? It's Lanigan kid Sheldon Brookbank. "Bill" as we used to call him back in the day is having a breakout season with the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL. He's captaining the team and leads all AHL defenseman in scoring. He's not afraid to mix it up, with the last name Brookbank you have no choice.
Sheldon, plus older brothers Wade and Leigh grew up right across the street from me on "Foley Crescent". We had a make-shift road hockey league for a couple of years where we would take on different streets and parts of town in some hard-fought battles in front of our houses. We were young, real young, so excuse the immaturity of all of this. We were the "Crushers" we had the farm kids that would come to town called the "Farm Team", we had the Vetshome Drive Veterans (always in the league cellar, right Kevin) and the Calvert Crescent club too. I'm sure a lot of readers can relate to something similar to this growing up, it's just part of being Canadian.
Usually only minutes into the Saturday afternoon tilt, gloves and equipment would be strewn all over the road as the "play" fights broke out. Line brawls, not nifty passing plays was the norm. We used to call the Brookbank's mom Paula "the Commish". She would sit in the living room bay window observing the game until it got out of hand. She would come out of the house and tell us to clean it up a bit and play hockey! We listened for awhile, but all it would take would be a scrum in front of the net after the tennis ball was covered up by one of the goalies. Then "the Commish" would call the game and we'd all go home. It's funny because most times their dad Murray would pull up to the drive-way and see the carnage on the street and not bat an eye on it . . . for the most part it was harmless.
Sheldon had it rough actually. Usually he was traded to another team in town just so big brother Wade could goad him into a fight or run him through the next door neighbour's hedge (Horbul's house).
Wade was a year older than me, and three years older than Sheldon. Wade, who never had much of a scoring touch always excelled with the gloves off. He would later go on to be the enforcer for the Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and is now presently in the Pittsburgh Penguins system.
So now it's young "Bill" emerging in his 2nd year in the AHL and all those battles on Foley Crescent has definitely made the kid tougher. He racked up 232 PIMS last season in Milwaukee and has now added the offensive touch to his game to the point where's he an all-star in the American League.
He often played up with our midget team as a first year bantam. He was always hands down our best defenseman. As a goaltender I always calmed down a bit with Sheldon on the ice.
So maybe one day a retro-road hockey game on Foley is in order. The Vetshome Vets versus the Crushers in a best-of-seven clash. Who are we kidding, best-of-seven? We all know The Commish would put an end to the festivities sometime before the series shifted to Vetshome Drive for games three and four.
Good work Sheldon.