Sporting a throwback jersey last week, Logan Hermus reflected on his national midget AAA hockey championship and what it would mean to his late father, Ken.
“He was always supportive of me,” the 17-year-old defenceman from Big Valley said as the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs gathered last Thursday at Red Deer Arena to celebrate the franchise’s second straight Telus Cup title.
“I’m so blessed to have him looking over me, and doing this for him, I know he’d be proud.
“In minor hockey, he was always there to support me, driving me to the rink. He wasn’t much of a hockey player, but I know he loved watching me play. It’s good to have this experience.”
Hermus and the Chiefs blanked the Ottawa Junior 67’s 5-0 in the gold-medal game April 28 at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., the site of the weeklong national tournament. The previous day, Red Deer beat the Saskatoon Contacts 5-1 in a semifinal date that carried special significance for Hermus.
“My dad passed away six years ago to the day of the semifinal,” he said. “It was tough, but he was a tremendous motivator for me while I was down there (in Ontario).
“I just want to say that I’m blessed to do it for him, in his honour, to win the Telus Cup.”
Hermus was just 11 when his father died, but he has memories of him to last a lifetime.
“I just remember times like playing catch out in the yard, and just little things like that that I won’t ever forget,” he said. “I’m doing this for him and I’m really proud.
“I was thinking about him a lot (during the Telus Cup) and I couldn’t get him off my mind. I was really happy that we won that.”
His mother, Carol, and his grandparents made the trip to Sault Ste. Marie, sporting Red Deer colours in support of Hermus and the Chiefs.
“It was probably one of the most amazing hockey experiences I’ve had in my life,” Hermus said after the Chiefs posed for Telus Cup photos in their home arena.
“The host committee was excellent — they treated us like professionals — and I will probably never forget that experience.
“We kind of had some hiccups in the round-robin, but we figured it out and we got to the semifinals and we managed to play our best hockey in the last two games and we just steamrolled the last two teams. We didn’t let up.”
There was no let up, too, in the support from back home. Even before the gold-medal game was televised nationally, Red Deer fans were in tune with the Chiefs’ progress in the Soo.
“My mom told me I had tremendous support from her friends and family back home, and I had lots of texts from people in Stettler,” said Hermus, a prospect of the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
“I really appreciate the support — people watching the (final) game and texting me and congratulating me. It means a lot, and I’m really proud to call Stettler and Big Valley my home. I couldn’t have done it without the people back in Big Valley and the Big Valley Arena and Stettler Minor Hockey (Association). I really appreciate what people have done for me.”
It’s the second straight season a Big Valley boy has played with the national-champion Chiefs. Ty Mappin, now of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, skated with Red Deer last season when the club was more commonly known as the Optimist Rebels.
“At the beginning of the season, some of the older guys said that if we worked hard and we listened to what our coach had to say, and come to practice every time with 100 per cent effort, we could get another one of those (national) banners,” Hermus said. “At the time, I didn’t believe that was possible, but with all the hard work we put in, it really paid off. We deserved it.”
Hermus didn’t log major minutes during the Telus Cup, but he tried to make the most of his opportunities on defence.
“When I got my minutes, I made use of them and made sure I helped the team and gave guys a bit of a rest,” he said. “It was a good experience and it was great to be along for the ride and help the guys out, and be a part of it.
“It’s been a tremendous experience this season. I’ve learned so many new things and just become a better player. I’m going to take that forward with me when I go and try out for my (junior) camps. I think that’s going to be greatly beneficial to me.”
Hermus, who’s eligible to return to midget next season, is bound for Moose Jaw’s spring camp on the final weekend of May. He plans to return to Moose Jaw for the main camp in August. He might also try out with a junior A team.