All sports teams are seeking perfection but very few can say they were part of a perfect season.
But there are exceptions like the 1999-2000 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats of the Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League.
Marc Long, a North Bay hockey coach, and Canada Post mail carrier was part of the Sabrecats team that finished the regular season with a perfect 40-0 record.
“You look back now and at the time we were so strong, we just went out every night and we even had overtime back then and you know you can’t play your best game every night but 40 straight is just ridiculous, we were actually 49 wins, we lost our 50th game in the playoffs and you look back now and you think back wow, 40 straight in the league, it’s unheard of,” recalls Long, who joined the Sabrecats after a trade with the Collingwood Blues early that season.
Long and Justin Carre, a professor at Nipissing University, traveled to Sudbury on Wednesday night for a special reunion as the junior hockey team was inducted into the Greater Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame at the event held at the Caruso Club in Sudbury that evening.
Teammates traveled from all corners of the province and as far away as Texas for the unique induction.
“What a blast it was to see these guys 17 years later, it felt like last month we did this it was a great night,” said Long.
“Also we had about eight fathers there that traveled out to the Royal Bank Cup in Fort McMurray and they had their own table and they were pretty funny too.”
The team went on to win the Dudley-Hewitt Cup and made it to the RBC Cup final only to lose 2-1 in a heartbreaker to the host team from Fort McMurray.
Long, who also played major junior hockey for the Oshawa Generals and Sudbury Wolves, knows this was a special group.
“It speaks volumes of our team you know we were such a close-knit team back than going forward and you see all these guys years later,” he said.
Long admits he feels bad that he hasn’t connected with teammate Justin Carre in North Bay but he plans to get the families together for another opportunity for the former teammates to reflect back on a junior hockey season like no other.