While the Aces of yesteryear seem to have taken place years ago, I often find myself searching for players who stuck out when I kid in the stands watching them. Players like Aaron Miller, Serge Roberge, and Rene Corbut just to name a few. However another player who was watch and an all too familiar name popped up on Twitter over the weekend.
Massena, New York native Mike Hurlbut played in the Frozen Frontier game in Rochester, New York which featured Buffalo Sabres alumni squaring off against Rochester Americans alumni. Hurlbut is an alumni of both teams but suited up for the Americans. As an added bonus, it was announced that he will be inducted to the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame, class of 2014.
After a successful collegiate career with St. Lawrence University, Hurlbut was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1988. After bobbing around between both the NHL and AHL for a few teams, he found himself in the Seaway Valley suiting up for the Cornwall Aces for two seasons. He was a pivotal asset to the Aces in capturing two division titles.
Hurlbut retired in 2002 with 29 career NHL games under his belt with the New York Rangers, Quebec Nordiques and Buffalo Sabres.
Growing up, the Cornwall Aces were a staple for me and many of my friends. Plenty of nights and Sunday afternoons were spent inside the Ed Lumley Arena cheering on such beloved names as Mike Hurlbut, Josef Marha, Jon Klemm and Aaron Miller just to name a few. A friend and I used to heckle the opposing teams but we learned our lesson when one player shot a puck into the crowd and hit a girl in front of us. We zipped our mouths after that.
Affiliated with the Quebec Nordiques and later the Colorado Avalanche, the Aces were a powerhouse team capturing two division titles in their 3 year history. I’d also like to say they had a hand in molding future Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup Champion Stephane Yelle as well.
There are quite a few former Aces who have gone on and thrived in the NHL. Jocelyn Thibault, Todd Warriner, Janne Laukkanen and current GM of the New York Islanders, Garth Snow just to name a few. Former goaltender Jean Francois Labbe has actually returned to Cornwall to head coach the Cornwall River Kings of the LNAH.
With mascots Wild Thing, and Half-A-Deck, the Aces provided a fun environment for families to take in a game and spend the night. Prizes and memorabilia were given out at every game and I wish I still had my Wild Thing T-shirt.
It’s sad when a team leaves town. The Aces became dormant after they left but were brought back to life in the form of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. At least the two banners that hang from inside of the Ed Lumley Arena will keep them alive.