Top 10 Sports Stories From 2016

Bothwell Arena support

Citizens, including Joan Horvat (centre) at Bothwell Area Sports Centre this past weekend – Photo by Angela Van Horn Photography

2016 was a great year for sports in Chatham-Kent. We took a look back at our most read sports stories from 2016, as well as our top news makers. Here is a look back at’s top 10 sports stories from 2016.

10. Local OHLers Make Their Mark – James McEwan, Joseph Raaymakers, Brendan Harrogate, Travis Konecny, Trent Fox, Brady Pataki, Nolan Gardner, and Levi Tetrault all made news this year in their own ways. One thing is for sure, Chatham-Kent is becoming a consistent producer of OHL talent. Grant Spence was drafted, and has the potential to make that step, and Grayson Ladd will be a high pick this year. Maybe someday our local players will be able to skate on a local OHL team. Top story of 2017 a new CK arena or team? Doubtful, but one can hope.

9. Chatham Maroons Make Move After Move – They’re good, they’re bad, new coach, old coach, new coach again. The Maroons made news in a variety of ways this year. From their blockade of the Chatham Daly News, to long winning streaks, to a new coaching staff, another new coaching staff, and another new coaching staff, the Maroons are never dull. They remain the hottest ticket in town, and Chatham-Kent’s premiere hockey team. They’ve produced NCAA players this year, and brought in top talent. Let’s hope for more stability in 2017, and a focus on the on ice success, without the off ice drama.

8. Top Hockey Prospects – Nothing brings in readers to like hockey, and nothing in our hockey offerings brings in readers like our men’s and women’s hockey prospect lists. Sometimes, people have issues with how we describe players, or who doesn’t crack this list, but it’s meant to be a promotional tool for our local players. They deserve the recognition, and being on the list, anywhere on the list, is an honour, and means an athlete has worked very hard for many years to get to that point.

7. Luke Van Rycheghem Hits One Out of the Park – Few local athletes earned more praise, and had more success this year than Van Rycheghem. Playing for the Ontario Blue Jays and Canada’s National Junior team, Van Rycheghem made an NCAA commitment, and was drafted by the MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. After his selection, the atheltic catcher decided to forgoe his NCAA career and turn pro. He was the single most read about individual athlete on this year.

6. Athletes of the Year – Our biggest feature of the year. Last year we named Bridget Carleton and Travis Konecny as our male and female athletes of the year. As the New Year rang in, our voting was complete again. We love this feature for celebrating our local athletes, and bringing together community members to vote and support family, friends, and teammates. We love this annual event, and we hope you do too!

5. Goodbye Shaun Suisham – He has been a cornerstone of our coverage for years. Wallaceburg’s Shaun Suisham embodies Chatham-Kent sports in so many ways, and was our only NFL player. He was a standup person and player. After an injury in 2015 derailed his career, Suisham officially called it quits in the summer of 2016. After a similar knee injury by Chatham’s Andy Fantuz this year, could we lose another local football legend?

4. Savannah Emmott Breaks Barriers – Not the only female athlete to break barriers in 2016. From Ashley Jackson playing for JMSS’ senior boys basketball team, to Savannah Emmott becoming UCC’s first ever female athlete on their football team, it was a good year for female athletes in Chatham-Kent. Emmott’s story was one of our top this year, and hopefully, more powerful young women learn a lesson from Emmott, and they see opportunities rather than barriers.

3. What the Wallaceburg Lakers? – Whoa. Hmm. Yikes. Aha. These are the best words we could think of to describe the Lakers in 2016. A hopeful start with stable new owners, to the same dismal results on ice. The Wallaceburg Lakers have no bigger supporters than CKSN. We want the best for the team, and we hope the story of 2017 is this organizations great turn around, rather than continued collapse.

2. Seth Griffith’s Roller Coaster Year – No pro rode a roller coaster like Griffith this year. A prolific AHL scorer and all-star to start 2016. Re-signed by the Boston Bruins. Placed o waivers, claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he was given almost no chance to succeed. Placed on waivers again, claimed by the Florida Panthers. As 2016 came to a close, he was on the top line for the Panthers, and hugged Jaromir Jagr as his linemate as Jagr moved into second all-time in NHL scoring. Not a bad memory when you consider the winding path he followed in 2016.

1. Bothwell Arena Saved – There was no more read story in 2016 than that of the fate of Bothwell Arena. When council pegged the arena for closure due to budget issues and a lack of use, the rural community responded in a big way. The community rallied support, and worked with council to propose a way to keep the rink open. As 2017 rolls in, Bothwell Arena is safe…for now. And if the day ever comes when council utters the Bothwell community name in relation to cuts, you can bet the citizens of Bothwell will be ready again.

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