The GOJHL club and the St. Thomas Firefighters spent the weekend collecting donations
curb side pick-up style for the St. Thomas charity
Monday, December 14th, 2020
By Rob J. Ross
ST. THOMAS - It was a weekend the St. Thomas community scored.
Over this past weekend, the St. Thomas Stars and the St. Thomas Professional Firefighter's Association (STPFA), along with Santa, collected donations for Christmas Care, walking the streets of the Railway City.
The team hit Dalewood Meadows in north St. Thomas on Saturday and were throughout Orchard Park in the southeast on Sunday.
Santa jingled his way around, not on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, but an antique 1951 Bickle Seagrave fire truck. A modern working vehicle also made the rounds.
"Very impressed how the community has come together," said Daryl Smith, president of the STPFA. "Seems all the families enjoyed Santa spreading Christmas cheer and our association fire truck. Thank you to all of the volunteers that came out to support the effort, along with the Stars, Elgin Chrysler and Southwold firefighters."
The Stars, who have played eight exhibition games but none in front of fans, were busy collecting donations while interacting with residents.
"Great to see them out in the community," said Smith. "We had a lot of fun and were able to help the community while doing it."
Hundreds of food items filling several dozen banana boxes were collected along with toys and $917 in cash, cheques and gift cards.
The Stars hockey club also made a separate donation to Christmas Care.
Stars on ice
St. Thomas just finished an eight game home and home bubble series with the Strathroy Rockets, with four double-header nights. Games were shortened time wise and featured 11 players a side. There was no deliberate body checking, not intentional physical contact.
"It's different without hitting," admits Stars' 16-year old rookie Maddox Amaral, a 2020 OHL draft pick of the Ottawa 67s.
For St. Thomas native and rookie netminder Owen Willmore, tending between the pipes hasn't changed, aside from this season being his first in junior hockey.
"I had to adjust to a faster game with harder shots," said the Grade 11 student at Parkside Collegiate. "For COVID, it hasn't affected me very much."
Skaters have to wear approved facial covering.
A noticeable difference the Stars all agree on, is playing without fans in the stands.
"It does lower the excitement and intensity," Willmore said.
For 18-year old forward Kyle McCauley, this season is a return to his childhood community. McCauley attended Elgin Court elementary school before moving to London, but the son of St. Thomas firefighter, Mike McCauley, recalls wanting to play for the Stars as a youth.
"That was a goal when I was younger, probably around when I was 12. It was a dream to play for this team," said McCauley. "It's nice to be here now."
McCauley welcomed a trade from the Chatham Maroons.
"It's a lot of fun being traded here. It's closer to home and it's where I grew up. It's a better fit for this year especially during the circumstances. I've been enjoying my time here," said McCauley. "Eventually we'll get back to normal but any way we can play is better than not playing at all. When we do get back to normal, we have a really good team to do good things. I'm excited for it."
The official start date of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey season is January 15th, pending regional public health approval.
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