By Sam Laskaris
Boxer makes list
Ojibwe boxer Mary Spencer, who represented Canada at the 2012 London Olympics, has once again made a prestigious list.
Spencer was one of the 20 individuals or teams named to the Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity List for 2012.
The list, which has been announced for the past 11 years, is annually published by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS).
There is no limit to the number of times one can be named to the list. Spencer was also on the 2011 list. And prior to that she had been on CAAWS’s Ones To Watch list in 2010.
Those on the most influential list, which includes athletes, coaches, officials, professors, administrators and volunteers, are recognized for being women who have influenced others towards sports and physical activity through their efforts not only in Canada but on the international stage as well.
Spencer, a 28-year-old who lives in Windsor, Ont., competed in London last summer, where women’s boxing made its Olympic debut. She was one of 12 entrants in the women’s middleweight category.
Spencer had been considered a medal contender heading into the Olympics. But after receiving an opening-round bye, she was eliminated after losing her quarter-final bout against Li Jinzi of China.
Though her plan had been to retire following last year’s Olympics, Spencer had a change of heart because of her performance in London. Her goal now is to continue boxing for a few more years and hopefully represent the country at the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will be staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Minor pro stars
Three Aboriginal hockey players that were Canadian junior stars are making a name for themselves in the East Coast Hockey League this season. Colton Yellow Horn, a 25-year-old Blackfoot from Brocket, Alta., was leading the minor pro league in scoring in late January.
Yellow Horn, a member of the California-based Ontario Reign, had a league-high 51 points (32 goals, 19 assists) in his first 42 games this season.
Despite leading the ECHL in scoring, Yellow Horn did not participate in the league’s all-star game, which was held Jan. 23 in Loveland, Colorado. That match featured the ECHL all-stars against the host Colorado Eagles.
The all-star squad included Casey Pierro-Zabotel, who has Bonaparte ancestry, as well as Francis Verreault-Paul, who is Montagnais. Pierro-Zabotel is a member of the Georgia-based Gwinnett Gladiators while Verreault-Paul is toiling for the Bakersfield Condors in California.
In the ECHL all-star contest, Pierro-Zabotel, 24, and Verreault-Paul were members of the winning squad. The league all-stars defeated the Eagles 7-4.
Pierro-Zabotel had a pair of assists that night while Verreault-Paul was held pointless.
Yellow Horn had started off his junior career in his home province, with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He played three years with the Hurricanes and then concluded his junior days by playing two more seasons with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, a squad based in the state of Washington.
Yellow Horn had started his pro career by playing 11 games for a team in Austria. Since then he’s also played for a pair of other ECHL squads, the Elmira Jackals and Stockton Thunder. And before joining the Reign this season he spent the previous three years toiling in the Central Hockey League with the Texas-based Allen Americans.
Pierro-Zabotel is in his fourth pro season. A graduate of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, he has spent the majority of his pro career in the ECHL. But this is his first season with the Gladiators, where he racked up 43 points in his first 44 matches.
Verreault-Paul, who is 25, is in his first pro season. He had played five years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. And he spent the past four seasons starring with the Montreal-based McGill University Redmen.
Verreault-Paul led the Redmen to the Canadian university championship this past March.
As for this season, he started the year in the ECHL with Greenville Road Warriors in South Carolina before being traded to Bakersfield in late December. Verreault-Paul had appeared in a total of 41 games for the two squads and had 32 points.
New home for Cheechoo
The Cheechoo Train is now running out of Oklahoma. Jonathan Cheechoo, a former NHL star, signed a one-year deal with the American Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Barons in mid-January. Cheechoo led the NHL in goal scoring with 56 goals during the 2005-06 season when he was a member of the San Jose Sharks. But Cheechoo, a 32-year-old Cree from Moose Factory, Ont., has struggled since then. This marks the fourth straight year he’s playing in the AHL.