Independence Day, otherwise known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States.
But while our neighbours to the south are commemorating the Declaration of Independence that was adopted on July 4, 1776, it’s just another summer hockey day in Canada.
Turns out that Jeff McKercher has good Ontario Hockey League company as a York Region police officer.
On Thursday, while chatting with McKercher — who doubles as the head scout for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs — I learned that one of his good friends and fellow police officers in York Region is Sault Ste. Marie native Brian Finley.
The 33-year old Finley was a standout goalie over four OHL seasons with the Barrie Colts and was a first-round pick, sixth overall, of the Nashville Predators at the 1999 National Hockey League draft.
But after suffering a serious groin injury in his final season of junior, Finley was never quite the same and played in only four NHL games (two with Nashville and two with the Boston Bruins) before retiring in 2007 at age 26.
As they are now both York Region police officers, Finley and McKercher were OHL teammates in Barrie during the 1997-1998 season.
A defenceman, McKercher also played in the OHL with Soo Greyhounds and Peterborough Petes.
ON THE ATTACK
Batchewana Attack of the new Canadian International Hockey League has signed its first import.
Johan Kling, a 6-foot-1, 198 pound, 1995 birth-year defenceman, played for IFK Ore in Sweden in 2013-2014.
Kling had 5 goals, 9 assists, 14 points in 29 games for IFK Ore, which is a Division 2, semi-pro level team.
David Maciuk, who is co-owner and director of hockey operations for the Batchewana entry in the CIHL, said he was referred to Kling at a recent tryout camp of the Bloomington Thunder of the United States Hockey League.
Maciuk, meanwhile, said he continues to talk to potential coaching candidates for the Batchewana junior team that will play out of Rankin Arena on First Nation land in Sault Ste. Marie effective the 2014-2015 season.
“We’re getting close,” said Maciuk, when asked when the Attack expects to name its first-ever head coach.
As was reported by HockeyNewsNorth.com on June 28, Maciuk hired Sault Ste. Marie resident Dennis Bolton as general manager of the Attack.
The 63-year old Bolton, a retired provincial justice system worker, has six years of recent experience as an associate coach and assistant general manager with Soo Eagles, Soo Thunderbirds and Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Bolton is working alongside Maciuk as the Attack zeroes in on hiring a coach.
Both are also scouring USHL and North American Hockey League tryout camps for high-end, junior-aged players.