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Cornered Coach: Little Big Men

 

You know the old saying.

"Good things come in small packages."

But in hockey, you can change the first word of that statement to “Great."

As I've mentioned a few times in this blog, my two little lads and I spend a lot of time hanging out at historic St. Michael's Arena in Toronto watching the Jr. A. Buzzers strut their stuff. Over the years, we've been privileged to watch the likes of Andrew Cogliano, Brendan Smith and Reilly Smith – all former Buzzers who are now skating in the NHL.

This season, a pair of 16-year-old twin brothers are burning up the OJHL while wearing Buzzers blue. Who knows if Dylan and Ty Jackson will make it to the NHL, but right now these two pint-sized dynamos are putting on a fantastic show at the old barn at Bathurst and St. Clair.

Standing about 5'8" and weighing in at around 150 pounds, the "Action Jackson" duo have combined for 24 points in their first 15 games with the Buzzers. Last season, playing Minor Midget for the Mississauga Rebels, they teamed up to score over 200 points. 

And when I say "combined" and "teamed up,” I mean that quite literally. The Jackson twins have an innate ability to find each other on the ice, with a telepathic twins-power that the Sedins made so famous while suiting up for the NHL Vancouver Canucks.

The Jacksons were selected in the OHL draft by the Guelph Storm but, at this point, they've set their sights on U.S. College hockey, already signing a package deal to attend Northeastern University in Boston. But for the next few seasons, they'll be flashing their unique skill set with the Buzzers and if you get a chance, check them out – I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

There's no question that we're living in pretty special times as hockey fans. There are so many talented players on display at all levels of the game, including the NHL. Patrick Kane, Mitch Marner and Johnny Gaudreau, for example, all own wicked skill sets – and all of that skill is bundled up inside pretty tiny bodies.

And the truth?

Puck fans have always had an affinity for small athletes who can really play the game.

One of my all-time favourites?

Theoren Fleury.

I first watched Theo play junior hockey with the WHL Moose Jaw Warriors. A regular watcher of the Medicine Hat Tigers, it was hilarious to watch Fleury come into the Gas City and put on a show. He was a precocious little guy and by the end of the night, he'd have 3 or 4 points and 3 or 4 Tigers players (and fans) who wanted to kill him.

Little did people know the horrors that Fleury was experiencing off the ice, as the Graham James scandal rocked the entire hockey world. It's a no-brainer that Theoren deserves a home in the Hockey Hall of Fame –1,000 career points, a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold – not to mention the great work he continues to do in the fight to educate people about the trauma of sexual abuse.

Yes, Theoren Fleury is a little guy who continues to do big things.

And from Fleury to Marner to the exciting Jackson twins, hockey is full of small, skilled players who deserve a great big hand from the many fans they entertain at a rink near you.

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