Chatham-Kent’s Top Sports Stories of 2017
10. Stewardson Scores Goal – Everybody loves it when this rare moment happens. CKSN readers alike were thrilled to see Blenheim Blades goalie Eric Stewardson score not only a goal, but a playoff goal last year against the Lakeshore Canadiens. The Blades have special moments on this list back to Tyler Clark’s TSN attention grabbing goal, and Stewardson joins that list of legendary Blades goal scorers.
9. Athletes of the Year – Annually this has become a humongous success for CKSN. In the first week of 2017, we named Lee Kucera and Ashley Jackson as our Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Every year, more than 10,000 votes are cast on CKSN.ca for this event. Who will be our 2017 athletes of the year? You’ll find our very soon. Final Four voting ended Christmas Eve.
8.OFSAA and the World – In a winter sports world, track and field has become a huge sport in Chatham-Kent. Not just for participation, but for success stories. Alison Stephens won OFSAA gold, Ally Oulds won OFSAA gold, Camille Blain took OFSAA silver. Oulds and Josh Kellier competed at the International and Nationals levels, and Payton Sabourin was a track star at every stage, including provincially alongside Stephens. This is a growing sport for CK athletes.
7. CK Women Make Commitments – Kaitlyn Isaac (Cornell), Emma Gorski (Merrimack), Jessie McPherson (Vermont), and Olivia Hilton (Dartmouth) made it a special year for girls hockey locally, all making early NCAA Division I commitments. Add on swimmers Madison Broad (Toledo), Maddy Lavoie (Delta State), and basketball players Jana and Locan Kucera (St. Clair) and Burke Bechard (Guelph), along with golfer Tess Scaman (Post), and our readers saw the commitment Chatham-Kent’s female athletes put into their sports, and education in 2017.
6. OHA Rules – Whether some readers like it or not, hockey still dominates the headlines in Canada. So much so, that two of the most read stories of 2017 on CKSN had to do with rule changes for Junior hockey. Primarily, readers were interested in learning about Face Shields Becoming Mandatory. No more hockey teeth, and those playoff beards will be a little less visible. The other rule that sparked interest was the OHL’s New Junior C Drop Down Rule, restricting how many players Junior C teams can carry who have played Junior B or above.
5. Tyler Britton Passes Away – CKSN’s single most read story of 2017 was on the passing of Tyler Britton. A beloved local athlete and friend, Britton will be remembered fondly. He was 24.
4. Maroons Are Hot Topic – The Chatham Maroons remain Chatham-Kent’s top team for fan interest. They welcome the biggest crowds, and week in, week out, have the largest online following simply for their game results, signings, and news. The hiring of coach Ron Horvat, and a slew of local signings including Dylan Schives, Grant Spence, Eric Carter, and Thomas Michaud grabbed readers’ attention in 2017, putting the Maroons atop the good news reader charts for this year.
3. Lacrosse Coach Punches Player and Wallaceburg Lacrosse – Wallaceburg will have a better 2018, we’re predicting this. A video of a Six Nations coach punching a Wallaceburg Red Devils lacrosse player went viral. But this wasn’t the only non-game nonsense the Red Devils found themselves linked to this year. In fact, a Red Devils coach was arrested after allegedly assaulting a player from an opposing team following a game in Windsor. It’s time for the negative headlines to stop coming out of the ‘Burg.
2. Grayson Ladd – This kid made a lot of headlines in 2017. He was the most highly revered prospect playing for the Chatham-Kent Cyclones, ever, and lived up to that billing by being selected 13th overall by the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL draft. He’s had a slow transition to major junior, but our readers ate up every story about Ladd this year, making him the most read athlete on CKSN in 2017.
1. The Wallaceburg Lakers – New owner, new owner, new coach, coaches fired, new coach, coaches leave, new old coaches, old owners to GMHL, no playoffs again, trouble signing talent, get some talent but still struggling… Yikes. Nobody earned more headlines than the Wallaceburg Lakers in 2017. Readers ate up the rollercoaster, tabloid style year Wallaceburg put together. Luckily, readers also loved it when they signed promising players like Bailey Smith, Noah Labonte, Austin Bentley, and Travis Moore, and of course, they went crazy for the rare Lakers wins. We pray that somebody with a true hockey mind, and a group of business minded people finally take over this team, clean house of all the old cobwebs, and give this once respected organization a chance.