In his prime with the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets, Jason Deleurme was a major go-to-player. He could score, hit and fight.
At 40, the fiery 5-foot-8, 180-pounder is not done playing hockey. He and the Kelowna Sparta face the South Island Knights of Duncan in a two-game, total-goal Coy Cup senior AA series starting next Saturday night (5:45) in Vernon.
Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday, March 5 at 12:45 p.m. back at Kal Tire Place. Vernon’s Trevor Seibel has been assigned to referee the series opener. Tickets are $10 at the door.
The winner advances to the Coy Cup championships, March 21-25, in Whitehorse, where the Huskies are hosts at the Takhini Arena.
“We are looking forward to Whitehorse hosting the Coy Cup in March,” said BC Hockey Adult Male Coordinator Trevor Bast. “The Huskies have re-ignited senior hockey in the community over the past year, and we know they will put on a great event.”
Kelowna’s roster is filled with former Junior players, including Vernon’s Sasha Golin, 28, who spent three years with the WHL Portland Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers before one season with the BCHL Penticton Vees.
Deleurme rang up 51 goals and 103 points in his fifth and final year with the Rockets in the 1997-98 season. He compiled 313 points in five seasons, getting 19 points and 90 penalty minutes as a 16-year-old rookie. Future NHLers Scott Hannan, Brett McLean, Scott Parker and Vern Fiddler were on the ‘97-98 Rockets team.
Deleurme is the elder statesman with Sparta, who carry an average age of about 26.
Forward Kevin Walrod, 28, played four years with the Michigan State Spartans after skating with three BCHL teams.
“Our ultimate goal is playing AAA, a league that regularly showcases ex-NHL talent,” said Sparta player and spokesman Kelly Loudon. “Our roster is composed of a wealth of ex-pro players and talent that has played university, college, CHL, Junior A and Junior B hockey.”
The South Island roster includes 34-year-old forward Luke Phillips, formerly of the minor-league Huntsville Havoc and Knoxville Ice Bears.
D-man Tyler Matheson, 26, played for the ECHL Brampton Beast after a Junior career with the Victoria Grizzlies, Cowichan Valley Capitals, Saskatoon Blades and Kelowna. Dee Kelyn Opel, 23, started his career with the KIJHL Sicamous Eagles, while F Aaron Spotts, 31, once played minor pro for the Quad City Mallards.
The Coy Cup was donated to BC Hockey by Colonel Coy of the 50th Gordon Highlanders Regiment of Victoria. The first Coy Cup was awarded in the 1922-1923 season, won by the Enderby Hockey Club.
The Quesnel Kangaroos (11) have won the most Coy Cups, including seven in a row from 1981-82 to 1987-88. Teams from Vernon have won 10 Coy Cups, the last being the Vernon Luckies in 1964-65, coached by the late Vern Dye.