By Jordan Ercit
Kitchener Post staff
Blond hair, patchy growth and all, Ben Thomson is giving Movember another go.
The 19-year-old Orangeville native and Kitchener Rangers forward is the poster boy for his team’s hair- and fund-raising effort as they encourage fans to Grow a Mo with Thom-O this month.
With less-than-ideal upper lip coverage, Thomson never thought he would be the one to follow in Julian Melchiori’s follicled footsteps, who championed the cause on the Rangers’ website last season as a suitably dark-haired overager.
If anything, he believed John Gibson or Ryan Murphy would have been better candidates to develop championship-calibre dusters based on last season’s precedent.
So while Thomson is expecting some ribbing from his teammates, he said it is worth the abuse to raise awareness of prostate cancer and men’s mental health issues.
“When you’re still a little bit young, you don’t get too many good moustaches going,” Thomson said on Wednesday before taking his final upper lip shave of the month on Thursday. “Hopefully, this year I can change that.
“I may get razzed by the guys because I don’t have the best moustache on the team, but it’s going to be a good competition this year and I’m hoping to compete with some of the other guys.”
Besides, Thomson’s most important job will be judging and not necessarily growing the best moustache.
Fans taking part in the initiative will have a $1,000 donation placed in their name by the club. The winner, chosen by Thomson on Nov. 27, also receives two suite tickets and will be recognized by the Rangers on Dec. 9 when they host the Ottawa 67’s.
Deadline for entries is Nov. 26 at 9 a.m. Entries can be submitted to Michelle Fortin, the Rangers’ manager of brand marketing and media relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A full list of entry rules are available on the team’s website.
Last year, Waterloo’s Will Hamilton won the battle with a stylized handlebar moustache — the Home Hardware employee trimmed the lower part of his ‘stache into a pair of Hs that resembled the company’s logo — which also impressed Thomson.
This year, Thomson is looking for more of the same — creativity and originality.
“Something you don’t see everyday, that should make someone a winner again this year,” Thomson said.
Meanwhile, the Rangers begin a fur-flying four-game homestand on Friday at The Aud — after a Thursday roadie to St. Catharines to face the Niagara Ice Dogs — with the Windsor Spitfires coming to town at 7:30 p.m.
KITCHENER NOTES: The Rangers begin a tough stretch at home tonight when the up-and-coming Spitfires come to town. Owen Sound (Sunday at 7 p.m.), Mississauga (Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.) and Sault Ste. Marie (Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m.) follow, with a road date against the Generals ending things on Nov. 11 in Oshawa.
The Rangers head into the weekend with a smaller and younger defensive corp after overage stay-at-home rearguard Ryan Hanes was dealt to the Kingston Frontenacs on Monday. Kitchener picked up the Fronts’ seventh-round selection in the 2013 OHL draft and the move will give youngsters Jared Gilbert and Owen Stewart more time to develop.
Meanwhile, the surging Rangers entered the week with points in six straight games (5-0-1), which followed a four-game losing skid on the road.
Last weekend, Matt Puempel continued his hot start to the season with a pair of goals in a Friday night 3-2 shootout win over Owen Sound before scoring the game-tying goal, his team-leading 10th of the season, last Sunday against Plymouth.
That gives Kitchener a 4-0-0 home record heading into Friday against Windsor.
WINDSOR NOTES: Kitchener native Derek Schoenmakers makes one of his final OHL appearances at The Aud tonight.
The overage winger has seven goals in 16 games this season with Windsor after being acquired from the Sudbury Wolves before the start of the season.
Other than Schoenmakers, the Spitfires are paced by a young group of forwards. Top-four scorers Brady Vail, Kerby Rychel, Chris Marchese and Michael Clarke were born in 1994, while their sixth-best scoring forward, the recently benched Josh Ho-Sang, was born in 1996.
POST SEZ: Keep yer head up kid. The last time these two teams met, Spitfires defenceman Patrick Sieloff sent Rangers rookie Justin Bailey to the sidelines with a concussion, one that cost Bailey an appearance in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.
Bailey, however, has turned the corner with three goals in his last four games, including last Sunday’s game-winner against Plymouth.