By Ryan Laverty
The Dinos men’s hockey team sustained a number of losses throughout their 2000/2001 season, but none were as hard as the ones they’ll sustain this spring. Captain Judd Casper, speedster Scott Fukami, sure-handed scorer Matt Holmes and stalwart Mike Laplante are all headed for greener pastures upon the end of their Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union eligibility.
As three of the four hail from Calgary, it seems appropriate their
careers ended at the University of Calgary. With the exception of Holmes, these men will put their hockey-playing days on hold indefinitely.
"Holmesy is the only one who seems interested at carrying on right now," said Head Coach Tim Bothwell. "He is looking to go to Europe and try his hand over there."
Holmes, who played Junior for the Victoria Salsa of the BCJHL, received a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Superior. After just one season in Supetown, Holmes returned to Calgary. After a stellar year at Mount Royal College, he brought his bag of tricks to the U of C where he enjoyed progressively greater individual success in each of his three years with the Dinos.
The rest of the crew seems to be more than content to hang them up, at least as far as competitive hockey goes. And while there is uncertainty as to whether or not Fukami and Laplante will begin playing again somewhere down the road, the always steady Casper seems ready to call it quits.
After a solid three-year tour in the Western Hockey League, Casper returned to Calgary in 1996. He spent one year with the Mount Royal College Cougars before moving up Crowchild Trail to suit up for the Dinos while pursuing a kinesiology degree and later a Masters of Teaching degree.
"I’ve wanted to be a teacher for a long, long time," explained Casper. "It just won’t work to keep playing competitively next year because I’ll be teaching a lot to finish my degree."
Fukami seems to be less sure about what his plans are for his hockey future.
"For now I’m going to go back to Lethbridge [to] finish my program in golf course management, and continue working as an assistant pro," he said. "I may go back [to hockey] someday."
Fukami definitely took the road less-traveled to get to the Dinos this past year. After a career in the
WHL, the diminutive winger took off to Scandinavia and the Swedish Division I League. He spent four years playing professionally in both Sweden and Japan before returning to Canada in 1997.
"I was really impressed with the level of hockey overseas," he remarked. "The talent over there is absolutely amazing."
Following his return, Fukami took a break from the hockey grind. Actually, it was a three-year break, and the adjustment required to join the Dinos was a lot tougher than he expected.
"It was definitely hard," he said.
"I still wasn’t where I wanted or expected to be by the end of the year."
Mike Laplante’s journey to the
U of C was via Madison, Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin Badgers. After two years south of the border, the defenseman found himself back at Father David Bauer Arena, two doors down from the room he’d called home while
playing Junior for the Calgary Royals. Mike is now married, working and content with life without hockey.
"We will miss all of these guys a lot," said Bothwell. "Scotty and Holmesy brought a lot of scoring, talent and speed to our team. Their ability to put the puck in the net is going to be sorely missed. As for Judd and Mike, these guys are character guys. They are both leaders and they do so by example. They showed up to play everyday, practice or game."
So as they leave, we wish them all the best in whatever they choose to do. Hopefully, their experience at the U of C enriched their lives as much as they enriched ours on Friday and Saturday nights.