Enter the Turtle Dome. But have an exit strategy. Home to the Akwesasne Warriors, on Mohawk land in Ontario, the Dome, officially known as A`nowara`ko:wa Arena, was rocking when the New York Aviators arrived to face off for the start of Game 3 of the inaugural Federal Hockey League (FHL) Cup Finals last March. It’s an overwhelming place for visiting teams.
But the raring fans were disappointed that night, as New York staved off elimination, 6-3, on March 25. The next night, however, the fans, and the Warriors, had their day, beating the Aviators 5-2, taking the Cup. New York was defeated three games to one in the best of five series.
On October 27, though, the now named Brooklyn Aviators will seek revenge in the 2011-2012 FHL season opening game, dubbed the “Maine Event,” to be skated at a neutral site rink in Lewiston, Maine. It’s a statement game.
A 21-game winning streak at the end of last season clinched a playoff berth and confidence for the Aviators, in large part due to the superior play of the six-foot-three, 220-pound team captain, defenseman K.C. Timmons, a Victoria, British Columbia native and a member of the Cape Mudge First Nation. A solid blueliner who possesses impressive offensive skills, Timmons had nearly a point a game in the nine games his club played in the postseason. Before meeting Akwesasne, the Aviators defeated the Danbury Whalers, 3 games to 2, in the first round. The Warriors advanced to the finals by knocking out the 1000 Island Privateers.
Akwesasne’s roster included five Native players. They were Dan Tessier, who is Métis, and four Mohawks; Kyle Lagace, Casey Swamp, Travis Stacey and Nick Montou.
Timmons will be leading Brooklyn again this season, and the expectations are high, both for him and the Aviators. Drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 1998, Timmons has been a gritty, hardworking player, including a four-year stint with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, then Colorado’s top affiliate.
But there was a break, after playing for the Bears and then a couple of European clubs, with Timmons basically quitting on the sport. Yet a move to Brooklyn in 2009 changed things. “I had just about given up on playing professional hockey again, until I got an e-mail from my dad in Canada, telling me about the new hockey league, the NEPHL [predecessor home to the FHL’s Aviators squad] that had a team in Brooklyn,” Timmons told New York City newspaper The Wave. “I found out that the team was holding an open tryout, and here I am.”
And the Aviators are glad to have him. The flourishing FHL added several teams in the offseason, with an influx of promising talent that will make it difficult for Brooklyn to repeat their phenomenal Cup run last year. But the 31-year-old captain is enjoying this, and is ready to lead again, with sights on a championship.
It all starts with the Maine Event, a grudge match, for sure. For the lucky fans in attendance in Lewiston, this should be some old-time hockey, between inspired rivals. “This is the most fun I have had in a long time,” Timmons told The Wave. “I’ll stay here in Brooklyn forever,” he said. Akwesasne, and the other FHL clubs, may regret that.