Bieber has Cullitons' back

By Steve Rice, Stratford Beacon Herald

Stratford Cullitons' director of hockey operations and GM Jason Lott routinely searches for references to his hockey club on Twitter and usually comes across a few tweets daily.

He got a surprise when he checked on Sunday night.

"I was looking and there were thousands of tweets about the Stratford Cullitons and I'm thinking, 'what is going on?'" Lott said Monday. "But it wasn't about the Cullitons hockey team. It was all about (Justin Bieber's) tattoo."

The internet and social media are filled with pictures and reports about the latest tattoo that the 18-year-old Stratford singer has added - a Cullitons' Warrior logo on his left shoulder blade.

"My grandfather always took me to the stratford culliton every friday night this is for u Grampa," Bieber wrote on Instagram on Sunday, adding, "My man @chenterios hooked it up."

Chente, reportedly is the owner and operator of Under The Gun Tattoo Company in Los Angeles, and he took to his Instagram Thursday to post a photo of a shirtless Bieber, stating he had tattooed him the night before.

Coach Phil Westman had photos of Bieber's new tattoo emailed to him by several friends.

"It's a great piece of art and a nice tribute to our hockey club," said Westman, adding that it wasn't a big topic of conversation among the players at practice Monday night.

But Westman remembers Bieber joining other youngsters under the Allman Arena stands more than a decade ago to high-five players and head coach Denis Flanagan as they headed out onto the ice for home games.

"I remember Justin down here all the time as a kid," Westman said. "He had the short haircut with the rat tail at the back. I didn't realize who it was until a few years later."

MAASKANT STAYING?

Defenceman Liam Maaskant, who was called up to the Barrie Colts after Christmas, remained with the Ontario Hockey League team on Monday, throwing some doubt into whether or not he would return to the Cullitons.

Maaskant, who is on a Cullitons' card, has an assist and a plus-4 rating in the six games he's played with Barrie since his callup. He played only three games with the Cullitons while dealing with a bout of mononucleosis through December.

"I don't know what the plan is (in Barrie)," said Lott, placed a call to Colts' general manager Jason Ford Monday and was still waiting to hear back. Thursday is the date that junior rosters are set for the remainder of the season.

"If nothing happens between now and Thursday then he's on our card and he's just an affiliate player for them. If they decide that they want him I'm not going to hold him back."

NO DEALING

It seems unlikely that the Cullitons' lineup will change before the January 10 deadline.

Lott said he would still like to add another forward but there aren't a lot of options out there, especially for a team like the Cullitons with no import cards left.

"I've been in touch with a number of teams but nothing seems to be working out," Lott said. "I think most teams have gone with smaller rosters this year and are like us with 20 or 21 players. And with the standings so close I don't think anyone wants to give up a player just for cash.

"I'm not really looking at moving any of our guys, unless it was something that would be really beneficial to our team."

LINCOLNS MAKE MOVES

The St. Marys Lincolns made some moves this week, including sending Mike Mandarelli to GOJHL Western Conference rival Strathroy Rockets for cash.

Mandarelli, 19, had six goals and 12 points in 30 games with the Lincolns this season, his third with the team. But apparently disappointed over ice time, he left the team in early December.

Third-year forward Bryan McCauley, who left the Lincolns prior to Christmas to concentrate on school, was traded to the Dorchester Dolphins of the Southern Ontario Junior C Hockey League.

The Lincolns also lost local defenceman Blaydon Blight, who was recalled by the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs. Blight had three goals and 11 points in 26 games this season with St. Marys.

Forward Tyson Baker made his debut with the Peterborough Petes Friday night and then returned to the Lincs in time for Saturday's game against the Lambton Shores. Baker was a Petes' 10th-round pick in 2011.

CHALLENGE AHEAD

After back-to-back one-game weekends the Cullitons enter a busy stretch of games.

"We've got a real tough weekend with Caledonia twice and Elmira," Westman noted. "It's a couple of teams we have a good chance of meeting in the first round so we've got to play good hockey and establish ourselves.

"We've got Cambridge and Listowel twice after that - six games in 10 days against the top four teams in the league so we'll know pretty well where we stand. It's a welcome challenge."

NOTES

Jordan Currie skated at practice Monday and continued to show improvement from a concussion suffered back in November ... Trevor Sauder was sporting a pretty good split lower lip after being high-sticked in Friday night's win over Cambridge ... the headline Monday said the Mitchell Hawks had won their sixth in a row, but the story had it right - they've won seven straight.