SUN Hockey Pool

Junior reunion on horizon

SCOTT UNGER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

It will be a reunion of sorts for local NHLers when they compete in the Sizzlin' Summer Showdown in support of the Believe in the Goal Foundation and CancerCare Manitoba next Thursday in Selkirk.

The majority of the 20-something players that will take part in the game played their junior hockey in either the Western Hockey League or the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

"Every team (in the NHL) has a couple of guys you played against in junior, but it's not very often you get to see them in one place like this," New York Rangers rugged forward Colton Orr said Wednesday night after a scrimmage with some other players that will be participating in the showdown.

And the rivalries from junior are even carrying over in the build-up to the charity game. Power 97 DJs Lochlin Cross and Philly are each coaching a side and they are drafting their teams live on air everyday leading up to Thursday.

Cross used his fifth overall selection to take Orr, the former Regina Pat while Philly countered with former Brandon Wheat King Jordin Tootoo. The two had many battles in the WHL.

"I guess the rivalries carry over from junior to the NHL," Orr said. "They are still enemies on other teams. If we end up on the same team, we become friends and joke about the times we fought a guy."

After becoming an adopted Winnipegger, former Manitoba Moose defenceman Nolan Baumgartner was impressed with the amount of Manitobans he played against when he was in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers.

"I was really surprised when I found out how many guys came out of Winnipeg," said Baumgartner, who played three seasons with the Moose before landing a permanent spot with the Vancouver Canucks last season. He will fight for a job with the Philadelphia Flyers this season.

"A lot of us are older now, but it's great to see all the guys."

Baumgartner and his wife have made Winnipeg their summer home and undoubtedly there is no shortage of top end players to keep him sharp during the summer.

LIKIN' THE SOUTH: Atlanta Thrashers forward J.P. Vigier played his junior hockey with the MJHL's Portage Terriers. Now that he has moved up from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League to the deep south of Georgia, he doesn't get a chance to play in Western Canada very often. Still, he isn't missing the cold winters of the north.

"(Atlanta) is a great city," said Vigier, who has one-more year left on his deal with the Thrashers.

"Hockey is not the top priority there, but sometimes it's good to keep a low profile. The fans we do have are great. It's a growing fan base."


Photos