Trio going strong for Petes

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

MONCTON -- Jamie Tardif could not bring himself to do it.

When he was offered a two-way contract by the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League last fall, the Peterborough Petes captain decided not to take it.

There was something more important pulling him back to Peterborough -- a chance to play for the Memorial Cup, and do so with a pair of long-standing Petes teammates.

Spending five seasons in major junior hockey with one organization is a rare feat, but Tardif and defencemen Trevor Hendrikx and Aaron Dawson all began wearing the maroon and white in the 2001-02 season.

"We knew we were going to have a great team in Peterborough this season and it made my decision a lot easier," Tardif, a native of Welland, said. "When you can say you have been with one OHL team for all of your five years, it means a lot. I know my OHL career has come to and end and I want to leave it all on the table in the last week."

Only three other OHL players in 2005-06 -- Dylan Hunter (London Knights), Ryan Hastings (Sudbury Wolves) and Jacob Heller (Erie Otters) -- spent five seasons with the same organization. Tardif and Hendrikx have been full-timers with the Petes since 2001; Dawson played five games in 2001-02 and became permanent a year later.

The Petes are in the midst of enjoying a couple of days of rest after beating the Quebec Remparts 3-2 on Friday night in the Cup opener. The Petes play the host Moncton Wildcats tomorrow night.

Though Tardif, Hendrikx and Dawson don't have the star power of Petes such as Steve Downie, Jordan Staal, David Shantz and Daniel Ryder, their collective contribution can't be sloughed off. Tardif, who did not have less than 44 points in any of his OHL seasons, had 69 points and was second in team scoring this past year. Hendrikx had 56 points to lead the Petes defencemen, and Dawson was a solid plus-15.

"They are huge parts of our team, but a lot of times they go unnoticed because the big scorers get a lot of the talk," said Petes general manager Jeff Twohey, who picked the three in the 2001 OHL draft. "But we would not be here without those three, no question."

It's the intangibles that fans don't see or can't gleam from a sheet of statistics that underline the trio's importance.

"They take responsibility for the team," Twohey said. "We can deal with those guys. A lot of times if we have something with the team we don't like, we can say something to them, mention something casually and you know it is dealt with."

Of the three, only Hendrikx, by the Columbus Blue Jackets, has been drafted. But they're all hoping that having a piece of major junior's biggest stage can be a jump-start to the beginning of a professional career.

"It has been a fun ride, and for us to be here is a big dream," said Dawson, a once-promising baseball player who left his home in Peoria, Ill., to play for the Petes. "Hopefully with us going as far as we have, something will work out for us with the pros. And we would love to cap this off with the trophy in the end."


Videos

Photos