A tough loss for all Greater Trail

"Not a happy week for me, or most local hockey fans."

Not a happy week for me, or most local hockey fans.

We lost George Ferguson, a big, rough, tough and lovable part of the community, a strong (in every sense) contributor to senior hockey and local ball, and a great friend.

Among my many memories of George are the image of him as the last guy on the Smokie bench while Kelowna Packers swung hockey sticks at it and coach Bobby Kromm – discretion over valour – watched from eight rows back.

Not a, “no sense, no feeling,” moment, but a reflection of stubborness and pride – and a bit of being slow off the mark when the attack blew up in his and his teammates’ faces.

George never once talked about it over the years, at least to me, but I won’t forget the moment, or him.

Some say just showing up is the most positive thing in living a life, and he did that.

He worked and played hard enough to satisfy the crusty Kromm and was an integral part of one of the most successful senior hockey organizations in history.

He also kept showing up to umpire fastball, in Northport particularly, even though he had to know he wasn’t particularly good at it and wasn’t all that well respected for his game day abilities.

What was respected was that he was dependable and honest, and even egregious mistakes were accepted because of that.

Dependable is a good word for George, so is kind, so is strong, so is likeable.

Not, all in all, a bad legacy.

• The other sad stuff is less important, but does matter.

Both the Smoke Eaters and the Nitehawks are done for the year, Beaver Valley lasting into almost 100 minutes of game seven against the Castlegar Rebels before bowing out.

At their level, of course, the Nitehawks outdid the Smokies, but both teams have returning players who might have taken strong notice of points lost and wasted early in the season that hurt their opportunities later.

Small consolation, but we can hope the experience makes a difference while they trek through Next Year Country.

• Quite surprising, but quite nice, that Brett Baltus, whom nobody in the league outworked on behalf of this BCHL season, got some recognition from around the league, as well as a scholarship, out of those efforts.

The nine games he missed due to injury, added to the few more it took for him to get back to his top level, may just have been the difference in the Smokies’ near miss for a playoff spot.