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Cullitons' head shot

Jake Ryan

Buffalo players pay $4,000 apiece to play for Blades

Pat Payton, Gazette sports editor

While it might build character to play on a 1-23-1 hockey club, it also takes money when you’re a member of the GOJHL’s Buffalo Jr. Blades. Each member of the Blades pays $4,000 to play for the team, which is dead last in the Golden Horseshoe Conference.

Just one Canadian plays on the team; the rest are Americans. Most of the Blades players are from the Buffalo area and playing Junior hockey for the first time. Blades started this season with just three returnees.

Blades play their home games at Buffalo State University, where they draw approximately 30 to 50 fans each night. A Blades official in Stratford last Friday night says Cullitons draw as many fans at one home game than Buffalo does in an entire season.

• Former Culliton Mark Bell (1995-96) played for Canada’s national men’s hockey team at the 2012 Deutschland Cup in Munich, Germany this past weekend. Canada lost all three of its games, 3-2 to Germany, 5-2 to Slovakia and 6-1 to Switzerland.

This season, the 32-year-old Bell is playing in the 14-team German league (DEL) for a club called the Iserlohn Roosters, based on the west side of Germany. Bell has three goals and five points in 12 games with Iserlohn. Roosters are widely regarded for their fans, and having one of the best atmospheres at home games in Europe, despite having just a capacity for 4,967 spectators.

Bell is one of four Canadians on the Iserlohn roster. The St. Pauls native spent all of last season with the American League’s Syracuse Crunch and got into five NHL games with the Anaheim Ducks. The previous two years, the big forward played with Kloten Flyers of the Swiss ‘A’ League.

• Cullitons forward Jake Ryan now has 11 points (7-4) in his last five games.

“I’m gelling with my linemates and now I’m starting to find the net,” the 19-year-old New Liskeard native said after scoring a pair against Buffalo last Friday night. “Hopefully I can keep it up.”

Ryan has been playing with veteran centre Andrew Barton and rookie winger Dylan Wettlaufer.

“Andrew Barton is a tremendous hockey player,” he said. “He puts the puck on your stick, and I love playing with him. Dylan is a young kid and he’s going to be a good one. I also like playing with him.”

• Captain Barton, meanwhile, was writing an exam at Western and missed last Friday night’s game against the Jr. Blades.

Cullitons defenceman Jordan Currie suffered a concussion in that game and will not see any action this weekend.

• Forward Brady Campbell, of Elmira Sugar Kings, has been named player-of-the-month for October in the Midwestern Conference. Campbell had 18 points in eight games last month. Defenceman-of-the-month in the conference is Kings’ teammate Clayton Greer. Listowel Cyclones’ Drew Reinhardt has been selected goalie-of-the-month. The 18-year-old from Clinton posted a .913 save percentage in October.

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