City embraces Colts' run at title


Mayor Dave Aspden is in full support of the Barrie Colts, but that doesn't mean he's about to provide the Windsor Spitfires with any bulletin board material.

"I don't want to jinx the team," the city's mayor said Monday afternoon.

The teams open the Ontario Hockey League final Tuesday night in Barrie.

Mayors have been known to make friendly bets in situations such as these, but Aspden isn't interested in making any friendly wagers with Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis, who'll he'll rub elbows with at a work-related meeting later this week.

"It would be great to make a bet, but I'm not a betting man," Aspden said.

"And I'd really hate to take his money."

Francis, a Spitfires fan, could not be reached for comment.

The mayor isn't the only one backing the Canadian Hockey League's top-ranked team. If Colts fever hasn't already set in around town, it's certainly on the rise.

As a season ticket-holder for the past 14 years, Colts super-fan Marcia Durkee has seen the ebbs and flows of the team's fanfare.

She said it hasn't been this exciting since a decade ago, when the Colts beat the Plymouth Whalers in a seven-game set to clinch the team's lone berth in the Memorial Cup.

Durkee remembers that series like it was yesterday.

"I couldn't speak for a week after that," the Barrie resident said. "There were 400 fans at Game 7 in Plymouth."

Durkee, who attends games with her husband, Larry, and daughter, Brianne, figures she's missed about 20 games over her 14 seasons rooting for the hometown team.

And this season might be difficult to top.

"Looking at this team compared to the 2000 team, these guys should do it," she said. "It's not going to be any easy chore ... but it's going to be exciting."

While the Barrie Molson Centre has been jam-packed throughout the playoffs and fan support has generally been stellar throughout the 2009-10 campaign, Durkee would like to see some of the celebrations spill out onto the streets.

"I would love to see businesses put signs up in their windows," she said. "I have a sign up in the window at my house."

Beyond the fact that junior hockey offers an alternative to the NHL -- "they're playing with a lot of heart and soul, they're not playing for the money" -- Durkee said the hockey can be a rallying point for a community, especially when a team is doing as well as the Colts.

"It brings excitement to the city," she said. "It gives people something to talk about."

As for her prediction, Durkee figured the Colts might have what it takes to beat the Spitfires in five games, "but it's probably going to go seven games."

As of Monday afternoon, standing-room tickets were all that remained for the opening two games of the series in Barrie.

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