By Bruce Fuhr,
The Nelson Daily Sports
Move over Mike Laughton.
Take a seat Frank Carlson.
Why don’t you just sit right down and relax Bill McDonnell.
On the weekend Nelson fans celebrate 75 years of history in the Civic Centre Arena — history that includes more than just hockey events — there’s a new kid on the block making a name for himself across the parking lot from the Grand Old Barn.
Gavin Currie is quickly becoming a household name to hockey fans in Nelson, much like Laughton, Carlson and McDonnell were during their playing days.
“Everyone has been so nice to me. People who I’ve stayed with have welcomed me into their homes . . . . Nelson is kind of my second home away from home,” the Leaf scoring star recently told The Nelson Daily.
Fans with any knowledge of the Leafs know quite well the value of the Abbotsford native. Currie, 20, leads the Leafs in scoring with 33 points. He’s coming off a six-point weekend and has accumulated 15 points in the past eight games.
However, getting Currie to the Heritage City was the sole mission of former Leaf coach and GM, Simon Wheeldon. And if the Leafs manage to find success this season, current skipper Chris Shaw should send a bottle of the best bubbly the way of the former main man.
“Simon wrote me a letter after the (2008) Westside training camp to ask if I wanted to come to play for Nelson,” Currie explained. “I had a few other offers, but those teams were just sending me pamphlets and Simon really took an interest in me.”
“He kept phoning me and phoning me and I finally I told him I’d give it a try and this is the best decision I’ve ever made,” Currie added.
Currie has been one of the better Leaf players.
Retract that statement. With all due respect to the Connor McLaughlin, Tyler Parfeniuk and Taylor O'Neil, the 6’1”, 175-pound forward is the best player on the roster all season long.
“Gavin is a player in this league that probably shouldn’t be in this league but has found a home here in Nelson and really loves it,” Shaw said when asked about the team’s leading scorer. “He’s kind of a quiet leader in the dressing room and keeps the guys lighthearted.
“But to have a player like that, a two-way player that’s so dynamic offensively, and pretty responsible defensively, it’s definitely a plus.”
Despite finding his second home in Nelson, for a brief time after accepting Wheeldon’s offer Currie became a little scared as to where he was heading. So out came the B.C. road map of B.C. calm his nerves.
“I never knew about Nelson. . .. I really never knew Nelson existed,” admitted Currie, adding fuel to frustrations of Interior folk that Lower Mainlanders don’t figure there is anything worth any value after Hope. “I thought (Nelson) was really Fort Nelson where it snowed and was minus-50 every day,” he added with a smile.
But after landing in Kootenay Country Currie adapted quickly to Wheeldon’s four-line rotation. Playing in 39 games during his first season, Currie scored 13 goals while adding 16 assists for 29 points.
That season was capped off with the KIJHL Championship. The success prompted Currie to seek out a spot in the B.C. Hockey League.
However, the joys of playing in Junior B were quickly dashed at the Junior A level. The bad taste forced Currie to ask Wheeldon if there was a spot still on the Leafs.
“Going to play BCHL last year as a 19-year-old I felt I wasn’t going to get that opportunity of being on a first or second line . . . realized all I would play is third or fourth line,” Currie said. “I never really wanted to tryout because after three previous years of being shutdown by teams and coaches and some never even calling me back, I’ve always come back here an never had a negative thought.
“So looking at all the positives here, and never seeing one positive in the BCHL, I really wanted to stay here and I’m really glad with my decision.”
Of course that decision was a little second-guessed by Currie when the Leafs jumped out to a, wait for it, a 0-4 start. The results didn’t get any better during the month of September for the younger, inexperienced Leafs. Nelson finished the month at 3-6, including a loss to bottom-feeding Grand Forks.
However, since September Nelson has been gliding along at an 11-5 clip to climb to within two points of third-place Spokane Braves and eight behind Murdoch-leading Castlegar Rebels.
A team the Leafs will be eager to knock down a few notches, Saturday in the old stomping grounds of Laughton, Carlson and McDonnell as the franchise helps Nelson celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Civic Centre.
“Right now we’re finally starting to play like a team so hopefully everything will start to fall into place . . . which I sure it will,” said Currie.
Who is looking to create his own history — history that surely will be talked about when Nelson celebrates 75 years in the current NDCC Arena.
Leaf sniper Gavin Currie makes his own history
By Bruce Fuhr,