Monday, July 22, 2024
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The big reveal

CALEB NICKERSON
SHAWVILLE Jan. 17-19, 2020
Over the weekend, the Shawville Arena was packed with youngsters and their parents as the fifth annual Pontiac Provincial Atom/Peewee tournament rolled into town. This year’s action started a little differently than those previous, with a special ceremony to honour one of the greatest to ever play minor hockey in Shawville, Jimmy Russell.
Organizer Ed Rusenstrom took to the ice just prior to the opening game of the Peewee A Lions on Friday night to pay tribute to Russell, whose family was front and centre on the Lions’ bench.
Russell was born in 1959 and grew up practicing his skills on a rink his father Edgar made at the family farm in Clarendon. He started playing competitive hockey in Shawville in Atom, and quickly made a name for himself. That year, the team never lost a regular season game and never lost a tournament. Russell notched a staggering 171 goals and 38 assists in 68 games and the team was crowned ODHA division champs.
He managed to improve the next year, playing in Peewee in 1969, putting up 159 goals and 53 assists in 60 games, leading his team to another ODHA championship. The next season, the team had only one loss the entire season and earned the right to attend the Silver Stick tournament in Port Huron, Michigan. As the captain, Russell improved his game even more, scoring 225 goals and 63 assists in 68 games. The numbers that he put up attracted attention from the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rusenstrom quoted Russell’s teammates from that time, Tim Powell and Wayne Lang, who both had fond memories of playing alongside such a talented goal-scorer. Lang recalled that opposing players asked for Russell’s autograph after playing against him, knowing he was destined for the big leagues. Tragically, Russell’s life was cut short by a farm accident in 1972, passing away the summer before he moved up to Bantam.
To this day, Russell’s number five has been retired at the Peewee Level of Shawville minor hockey. After Rusenstrom finished his speech, he called Peewee A goalies Bennett Rusenstrom and Jaxon Armstrong to unveil a banner of Russell hanging below the scoreboard. He then asked Russell’s mother Jean to perform the ceremonial puck drop to kick off the game.
Following the ceremony, Jean was pleased with the recognition her son received.
“It came as a great surprise,” she said. “It’s been such a long time, I kept thinking, ‘Will people even remember him?’”
“The banner is just tremendous, I didn’t expect his picture on it,” added Russell’s sister Debbie.
Rusenstrom said the ceremony is something new that the tournament’s organizers have taken on.
“As a tournament committee, we discussed an idea that we would start recognizing people that have made significant contributions to minor hockey over the years,” he explained. “The first one obviously was Jimmy Russell. He’s a name that a lot of the younger kids don’t recognize, unfortunately I’m still too young to remember him, but I often heard my dad and some of his friends talking about him and how good he was back in the day and that he would have easily been the best hockey player to come out of our area.”
“We were very lucky because the whole family was here, which is really nice to see,” he added. “We thought it was important that someone like him be recognized for years.”
In total, 14 teams participated over the course of the weekend, coming from as far as Nepean. Organizing committee member Jaime Christie said the tournament was started by a group of parents as a way to host events on home ice. After a couple of years, it was expanded to add a Bantam/Midget tournament the following weekend.
“We just want to provide the opportunity for our youth to have home tournaments again,” she said. “For years and years and years we never had that opportunity here.”
She added that having so many teams come to the area is a nice bonus for the people of Shawville.
“January’s a fairly quiet month for the businesses in town,” she said. “It’s nice to bring people to see and experience our town too.”
The Gatineau Dynamites took down the Aylmer Vikings 6-1 to take the top spot in the Atom A division. In the Atom B division, the Renfrew Rink Rats took out the Gladiateurs Aylmer 2-0 to claim the championship. The Hull Citoyens were thrashed by the hometown Pontiac Lions in the Peewee A division by a score of 6-2. In Peewee B, the Aigles Hull were taken down by Dwaine’s Towing Renfrew 2, with a final tally of 4-3.
The organizers encouraged local fans to turn out and support the Bantam and Midget Lions this coming weekend.

On Jan. 18, the Peewee A Pontiac Lions picked up a big 2-0 win against the Aylmer Icebergs during their final preliminary-round matchup before eventually winning the tournament on Sunday afternoon. Pictured, Peewee Lions’ forward Liam Queale gears up for a slot-wrister in the first period against Aylmer.
Peewee A Lions Forward, Paige Dubeau, muscles her way past a maze of Iceberg players in the neutral zone.
The Pontiac Provincial Atom/Peewee tournament started with a tribute to one of the best players to ever play minor hockey in Shawville, Jimmy Russell. Russell’s family was in attendance and his mother Jean (pictured above) performed the ceremonial puck drop to start Friday night’s action.

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