Not all reunion celebrations exceed expectations, but the feting of the 1997-1998 Laurentian Voyageurs men's basketball team a few weeks back at the Montreal Toundra vs Sudbury Five encounter most certainly did.
"I didn't realize I think just how strong our bond was until we got back together," noted Brampton resident Kevin "Flash" Gordon, making his first return to Sudbury in roughly a decade or so.
"It was just like old times."
With a good, solid collection of talent from that team on hand, the overwhelming majority of whom no longer call Sudbury home, the entire weekend provided for an interesting bridge from the times when Laurentian were national contenders to the present group, very much hoping to build a similar pathway.
"Last weekend was really special," noted current Voyageurs' head coach Brandon Edwards in an email exchange. "The stories, the successes, the tradition: it was great to have our current guys learn that history on a weekend where we both celebrated the past while also making history in hosting the first Laurentian basketball games at the downtown arena."
It's clear from his efforts that coach Edwards would love nothing more than to duplicate the kind of environment that coach Peter Campbell and others were able to create at the northern Ontario institution.
"Coach Campbell created a tradition and 25 years later, we are still Voyageurs' brothers," said Gordon.
The tie was particularly strong for the young man who excelled in both soccer and basketball during his high-school years, garnering attention from L.U. in both sports before narrowing down his focus en route to an OUA career that feature plenty of accolades, both for the team and individually as well.
"I felt like I had to choose one sport," recalled Gordon. "At that time, I was really in love with basketball, played it every day and was getting recognized for it. I didn't really know much about the team (Laurentian) - but I did know the coach well."
As he looked back on the team that captured the Ontario title and lost in the national semi-final, Gordon touched on many things.
"We were great friends that were heavy competitors," he said. "We had three all-Canadians and some all-stars - that's a lot of talent. But we had players who were not heavily recruited who brought certain intangibles."
"There are so many great memories," Gordon added. "It was the best experience for me."
And one which he shared with a roster that also included Joey Turco, Leon Sutton, Patrick Brandt, Dwayne Burton, Anthony Malcolm, Roan Biggs, Cory Bailey, Clifton Edwards, Adam Dusome, Ted Dongelmans, Colin Crokam, Blaine Henderson, head coach Peter Campbell, assistant coach Shawn Swords, trainer Shawna McNabb and team manager Jill Evershed.