Jesse Crowe is a golf pro at the Salmon Arm Golf &Country Club. Mickey Sims is a two-time Ringside world masters boxing champion in the middleweight (74 kilogram) class.
The two colourful sports nuts went toe-to-toe as guest coaches in the Salmon Arm Hockey School annual Pro-Am Hockey Game before 700 fans Wednesday night at the Shaw Centre.
Crowe, accompanied by his nine-year-old son, DJ, got big production from the line of Curtis Lazar (Calgary Flames), Colton Sparrow (University of Regina Cougars) and Salmon Arm product Lucas Nickles (University of Alberta Golden Bears) as Team Red dispatched Team Blue 6-5.
“DJ and I had our suits on and he was motivating the guys all night,” laughed Jesse. “Everytime Curtis and Colton came to the bench, he was telling them, ‘You gotta get a goal next shift. We need one guys.’ They were pretty to watch.”
Sparrow, who pocketed 2+3, was the Top Forward as the Vernon Vipers of the B.C. Hockey League hosted the 2014 Royal Bank Cup. He spent two years with the NCAA Alaska-Fairbanks before joining the Cougars last season. Lazar and Nickles both added singles.
“Sparrow had the hot hand,” said Lazar, who started his minor hockey career in Salmon Arm. “The tenacious play of Nickles really helped us. Most of us were trying to go for short bursts and not empty the tank, but not him. It was a lot of fun.”
Sparrow, Lazar and Nickles spend most of the summer chilling in Kelowna.
“Me, Curtis and Nicks have become pretty good pals over the last few summers so it was a lot of fun playing on the same line,” said Sparrow. “Curtis works so hard and has such a positive attitude and his leadership, ability and mental approach to the game should keep him in the game for a long time.”
Lazar and several other NHLers are skating 75 minutes a day five days a week at the Kelowna Capital News Centre with Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens among the goalies.
Lazar was traded to the Flames by the Ottawa Senators late last season and is stoked about a change of address. He was struck with mononucleosis early last year and was sent to the American League, where he played 13 games with the Binghampton Senators before re-joining Ottawa for 33 games. He earned three points in four games with Calgary.
“It’s (aftershock of trade) still a little weird, but it’s definitely been refreshing to have a strong summer in the gym. I feel like I’ve gone from being a 21-year-old kid to being a 22-year-old man. I’m ready for a new chapter as I go to a great organization which made some great offseason acquisitions. Those Battle of Alberta games will be a lot of fun.”
Team Red was leading 2-1 after one period and went in front 4-3 after 40 minutes. Eric Comrie, a second-round draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets from the Tri-City Americans, took the win.
“He’s a stud,” said Crowe of the 22-year-old net detective out of Edmonton. “He should make Winnipeg this year. It’s tough to look good in a game like this, but he was awesome.”
Leland Irving, a former first-round Calgary draft choice, took the loss. Irving, who plays pro in Finland, sizzled on the Salmon Arm golf course earlier Wednesday. He drained a six-foot put to eagle the 18th hole for a 71, lowest score among several Pro-Am players.
Sims was helped at the bench by former Silverback David Killip, director player development for the Western Michigan Broncos of the NCAA.
Riley Nash of the Boston Bruins, a Silverback grad, and former Edmonton Oiler prospect Cole Sanford (Golden Bears) also played in the Pro-Am. Silverback alumni Marcus Mitchell, Colton Thibault and Jordan Burns joined current Silverbacks Nic Unruh and Akito Hirose.
Meanwhile, Silverback GM Troy Mick has acquired forward Tanner Campbell from the Prince George Spruce Kings for future considerations
Campbell, a 20-year-old Kelowna product, has 28 goals and 69 points in three years in the BCHL with Prince George and the West Kelowna Warriors. Campbell also rang up 29 goals and 67 points for the B.C. Major Midget League bronze-medal Okanagan Rockets based out of Kelowna in the 2013-2014 season.
“Tanner is an offensive player who has the speed to go with it,” said Mick. “He plays with passion and has a very good hockey IQ on the ice. He will be a very good offensive point producer for us this season.
Said the 5-foot-7, 150-pound Campbell: “I am looking forward to the opportunity to play in Salmon Arm. Its a privilege to be part of a great organization with the Silverbacks and the fact that I’m able to play close to home makes it even more special for me. I am excited to call the Shaw Centre home this year, as it has always been a tough rink to play in over the years as a visitor. I know how special the fan support is in Salmon Arm and I can’t wait to get things going and push for a national championship this season.”