The Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League have announced the alumni that are returning to celebrate the team’s 1000th regular season game on Saturday, February 5 against the Windsor Spitfires.
Returning for Alumni Night (presented by M.A. Sprickman Heating & Cooling, Lake Erie Spine & Injury Center, Erie Times-News, Iron Workers Local Union No. 3, Sluggers Sports Bar and Grill and WJET-TV/FOX 66) are former Otters forwards Chris Berti, Sean Courtney, Brandon Cullen, Steve Nimigon and Brad Yeo; defenseman Mike McKeown and goaltender T.J. Aceti.
Berti is one of five Otters returning from the 2001-02 OHL Championship team. The native of Oshawa, Ont. played 80 games for the Otters after coming to the team in a trade from Sarnia on January 7, 2001.
Courtney was the hero of the 2002 OHL Championship, scoring the overtime goal in Game 5 that set off a huge celebration at Tullio Arena. He played three seasons in Erie, tallying 90 points in 167 games with the Otters.
Cullen suited up in 89 games for the Otters and posted 73 points and 249 penalty minutes in a season and a half with the Otters. The St. Catharines, Ont. native collected 29 points during the 2002 OHL Playoffs, placing third on the Otters. He played professional hockey for four seasons with the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers and American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolf Pack.
Nimigon was the first captain in Otters history during the 1996-97 season. In his lone season in Erie, Nimigon picked up 61 points and collected 111 penalty minutes. He was also very active in the community while with the Otters, and the team’s humanitarian award was named after him following the season.
Yeo played parts of three seasons in Erie from 1998 to 2001, appearing in 176 games and scoring 125 points. Yeo’s 435 penalty minutes are fifth on Erie’s all-time list.
McKeown played in 150 games for the Otters from 2000 to 2003. The defenseman appeared in all 21 games of the 2002 OHL Playoffs and was a steady presence on the blue line during his time in Erie.
Aceti was the goaltender that helped lead the Otters to their only championship to date. The popular netminder came over in a trade from Oshawa on October 22, 2001 and proceeded to post some of the best goaltending numbers in team history, as he is second in goals-against-average (3.08), fifth in wins (37) and fourth in shutouts (4). He was named as the best goaltender at the 2002 Memorial Cup.
The first 2,500 fans through the gates on Feb. 5 will receive a commemorative poster featuring the players returning for the night. Following the game, there will be a special meet and greet with the alumni and current players and a post-game VIP party at Sluggers Sports Bar and Grill.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)