Welland hockey team retires number of former player and coach

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Published December 14, 2021 at 2:48 pm

This past Sunday, December 12, was a big day for both the number 12 and the man who used to wear it for the Welland Junior B Canadians of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Granted, the team was called the Welland Cougars back when Mark Forster wore that 12 on his jersey but his impact on the community was so strong, the team officially retired the number on Sunday – or 12/12 if you will.

Among the well-wishers was Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey, formerly the mayor of Welland’s neighbour to the south, Port Colborne. (Port Colborne, Welland and Thorold make up the Niagara Centre riding.)

“On the eve of the Welland Junior B Canadians retiring #12 in honour of Mark Forster, it was a pleasure to join with former teammates and opponents, fans, friends and family, to recognize the positive influence Mark had on those he played with, against, and coached,” said Badawey.

“A class act! Thank you, Mark – you truly made a difference.”

Over the years, Forster, now 61, was both a player, an assistant coach and a coach for the squad, as well as a few other teams in southern Niagara.

Ironically, as was the case in the 1960s, Forster was assigned the number 12 by the team as players were not offered that option. That the number remained open for his Junior B career was just a fluke.

The City issued a release, honouring Forster and the club for its decision to retire the jersey, “As both a player and a coach, Forster was instrumental in the franchise’s success on the ice and behind the bench. Moreover, Forster has been a community mainstay and played a role in many hockey lives.”

“I am proud of my friend and former teammate,” said Welland Councillor Jim Larouche, who represented Welland at the jersey retirement. “I’m honoured to have known Mark for many, many years, and to watch him grow and support our community through sport and sportsmanship has been a pleasure to watch. This is a very deserved honour.”

“Forster was known as the ultimate team-first player,” the release continued. “He joins (the late) Pierre Coulombe as the only other member to have their number (#20) retired by the franchise.”

(Below: Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey, left, presents Mark Forster with greetings from the Canadian government. Photo: Facebook)

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