Fans help Merchants kick off milestone season

By Bruce Chessell, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

The Norwich Merchants celebrated a milestone on Sept. 16 as they enter their 50th season.

The hockey team held a big party to kick off their first game of the season against the Woodstock Navy Vets.

There were carnival games and a beer tent located outside the arena, and while kids played in the parking lot, adults decked out in Merchants gear celebrated their teams 50th year.

“Not too many teams have been in for 50 years,” Randy Nobbs, the Fan Fest chairman, said. “I think it’s quite an honour for the town. Fifty years is a long time.”

Nobbs said more than 400 former Merchants players registered with the team for its 50th anniversary, and the team plans on holding some alumni games in the near future.

“There are alumni games in February. We’re going to take every five years and divide them into two teams,” Nobbs said. “We’re going to have five different alumni games. It’s definitely going to be a busy winter.”

Shaun Godlewski, a Merchants fan for many years, said he came out to support the team and take advantage of the community activities.

“I try to make it out as much as possible,” he said. “When I do get a chance to get here, I like to check the games out. Hopefully we get a good turn out this year and have a lot of fun.”

Dave Lauzon is involved with the team, doing things behind the scenes, and he said he enjoys coming out to support his local team.

“I’ve been a die-hard Merchants fan for a long time,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome, they deserve what they get. They do a lot of hard work behind the scenes that you guys don’t see. It’s a group effort, it’s a family-oriented team.”