This week our “Once a Warrior/Once a Culliton” segment features the Midwestern Conference League Scoring Champion of 1991-92, Chris Brooks, with 124 Points. Chris still holds the Culliton Individual Record for Most Assists in a Single Season with 93 points (1991-1992).
CHRIS BROOKS, Stratford Cullitons #10
As a young hockey player growing up playing hockey in Stratford, I spent my weekend mornings in the Rotary and Dufferin arena. Then all my spare time was spent on an outdoor rink and endless afternoons playing street hockey. My childhood dream was always to be a Stratford Culliton.
It was a ritual for me to attend Stratford Culliton games every Friday night as a kid. I was fortunate to watch some Culliton greats which included: Ken Chisholm, Nelson Emerson, Ed Olczyk, Shawn Heaphy, Ron White, Brian Smolinski and so many others. I have so many memories from my nights at the Allman Arena. Upon entering the front doors on a Friday night the lobby was always full of passionate Culliton fans. You would be overwhelmed by the smell of popcorn and you would have to find your way to the back stairway to enter the upper concourse. I always tried to get there for warmups, as I wanted to watch how my idols prepared. I needed to be there for the National anthem. I dreamed of being in the starting lineup. I also remember always idolizing the Flanagan family. I always view Mr. and Mrs. Flanagan as royalty and had the utmost respect for the passion and work ethic they had. I vividly remember all the OHL, NCAA college and NHL scouts that would fill the Allman arena.
My path to be a Culltion was different than most. I started my 1989-90 season with the St. Mary’s Lincolns. Angie Nigro believed in me and provided me my first junior hockey opportunity. I left halfway through that season to come back to play midget hockey and be a part of a provincial Midget championship. I tried out for the Cullitons in 1990-91 and was told I would be the thirteenth forward and could practice with the team. It was a dream come true. All my days thinking about being a Culltion came true. I made the most of my opportunity and finished third in the league in scoring in 1990-91 and then led the league in scoring in 1991-92. I was so fortunate to be impacted by my coaches- Dennis Flanagan, Terry Uniac, Digger Flanagan and Ross Yantzi and played with so many great players- Jamie Hartnett, Chris Pronger, Greg Devries, Jason Mervyn and so many others.
All the great players I played with provided opportunities for so many of us. Without them I would have never been able to achieve what I did.
My time as a Cullton shaped my life. It provided me an opportunity to play college hockey at Western Michigan, go onto play three years of pro and stay within the game as a coach for the last 20 plus years. The values and principals that I learned as a Stratford Culliton shaped who I am today and I am forever grateful to have been a part of such a historic organization.