Ex-Knight faces off against Mustangs

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 1:24 PM ET

Joel Scherban always feels at home playing in London.

The colours have changed, but the five-year veteran of the Lakehead University Thunderwolves had great years with the Knights.

"I have a lot of good memories there," said Scherban, a native of Thunder Bay, who comes into the John Labatt Centre this weekend for two games against the Western Mustangs.

"Watching them last year win the Memorial Cup was really exciting for me. I try to follow the team in the paper as much as I can."

Scherban was with the Knights five years and was their all-time regular-season games played leader, until Dylan Hunter passed him on Dec. 2.

Hunter, in his fifth season, played his 301st OHL game last night and, barring injury or suspension, will finish with 317.

Scherban dressed for 274 games before his major junior career ended in 2001. Brad Marsh had held the club record with 269 games.

Scherban has set the Thunderwolves' all-time goals record, but there was a time this season he worried he might not get to finish out his university hockey career.

He was losing weight rapidly. That always happened in junior, but never so much.

"It wasn't normal this year," he said. "I wasn't quite sure what it was due to, but as the season went along it got worse, so I went in for blood tests." On Jan. 3 , the 25-year-old got the news -- type 1 diabetes.

"They considered me pretty old to be diagnosed with type 1. It's usually younger kids or teenagers.

"At first it was a little difficult because I wasn't too knowledgeable about it. Diabetes is something you hear about a lot, but I didn't have any details or know how many people it affects."

Scherban controls it with four shots of insulin each day.

"I've always been a fairly structured person and I've eaten well, so I don't think the changes have affected me as much as it would some other people.

"I'm just getting back to the point now where I'm feeling closer to 100 per cent. I lost a lot of muscle and I didn't have a lot of endurance."

Scherban played junior with the likes of Chris Kelly, Jon Erskine, Dan Jancevski, Rico Fata and Alex Henry, all of whom have played in the NHL. But Scherban has no regrets his career went in another direction.

"The last five years have been great for me," said Scherban, who's getting his master's after obtaining his business degree.

He had considered teaching.

"My mom's a teacher, so I'm quite familiar with what a teacher does and I like helping kids. But I'm leaning toward not being a teacher, so I decided to get a master's in business and hopefully that will open some more doors for me."

He's pulling down high 80s and is another example that education and hockey do mix. He took some courses at Western his last two years with the Knights.

"You can, if put your mind to it," he said. "For a while there, major junior hockey had the reputation of players not focusing on school too much, but I think if you look at university rosters throughout Canada. the majority are major junior players."

Twenty players on the Mustangs' 24-man roster are major junior grads.

"I signed an OHL contract I was happy with when I was 16 and that school package has definitely come in handy," Scherban said.

"What I've found interesting about university is playing junior, I never played any high school sports and I was never really part of a high school atmosphere.

"So it's neat now being part of a university where you see other athletes. And our school is fairly small, so you get to know everyone."

GAME GUIDE

Tonight: The Western Mustangs play the Lakehead Thunderwolves at the John Labatt Centre at 7 p.m.

Tomorrow: The Mustangs and Thunderwolves play at the JLC at 2 p.m.; the women play the University of Toronto at 5 p.m.


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