The Tilburg Trappers of the Eredivisie in the Netherlands will have an Ontario Hockey League flavour for the 2013-14 season. With the signing season just underway in Europe, the Trappers have signed a former top notch defenseman from the Ottawa 67’s. Behind the bench will be another OHL grad from the 1970’s who played nearly 450 regular season games in the National Hockey League.
The Trappers are an integral part of the seven team elite Dutch league. The team has roots stretching back to 1938 and plays out of the 2,500 seat Ijssportcentrum Tilburg that was built in 1996. Tilburg has been to the finals six of the past seven years, winning the championships twice. In 2012-13, the Trappers finished second behind The Hague and fell to the same team in the finals. Tilburg is a rare Netherlands city not located along a coast line. The history of the city dates back to 700 A.D.
Will Colbert – Defence
Colbert played three years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2002-03 to 2004-05, all with the Ottawa 67’s. He was a third round pick by Ottawa at the 2001 OHL Priority Selection, 54th overall. Will was team captain of the 67’s in 2004-05. In his first year with Ottawa, the 67’s reached the Robertson Cup finals before losing to the Kitchener Rangers in five games. In his second year, the 67’s were the second seed in the Eastern Conference but fell to the seventh seed Brampton Battalion 4-3 in the opening round. In his final year, the 67’s once again reached the Robertson Cup finals and once again fell in five games, this time to the London Knights.
Will was selected in two difference NHL Entry Drafts. In 2003, the Ottawa 67’s took him in the seventh round, 228th overall. In 2005, he re-entered the draft and was taken in the sixth round by the San Jose Sharks, 183rd overall. Colbert chose to play Canadian University hockey with four years at St. Francis Xavier University in the AUS.
From 2009-10 to 2011-12, Colbert played pro in North America, mostly in the ECHL but saw some action in the American Hockey League. In 2011-12, he wore the ‘A’ for the Gwinnett Gladiators.
This past season, 2012-13, he crossed the pond to play for the Belfast Giants of Great Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League. Belfast finished second overall during the EIHL regular season, six points behind the Notthingham Panthers. The two met in the one game playoff final showdown with Nottingham coming out on top 3-2 in overtime.
Paul Gardner – Head Coach
Gardner played two years with the Oshawa Generals, 1974-75 and 1975-76. In second and final year, Paul exploded with 69 goals and 75 assists for 144 points in 65 games. He placed third in goals and points in the league that year.
Paul was the eleventh overall pick at the 1976 NHL Amateur Draft. He appeared in 447 regular season NHL games between 1976-77 and 1985-86 with the Colorado Rockies, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres.
Gardner has been a head coach since 2007-08 for teams in the KHL, Germany’s DEL, the Central Hockey League and the EIHL. In 2012-13, he coached against Will Colbert as head of the Braehead Clan. Braehead finished eight in the ten team league. Paul has signed a two year deal with Tilburg.