Senn: I just had to go fight 'em
By Tom Brandt

Date Posted: 02/29/2008

Photos courtesy of Pattie Anderson, Bill Vaughan and Richmond Renegades

RICHMOND, Va. - Through the years, many minor-league hockey enforcers have created lasting memories while plying their trade on Richmond Coliseum ice. Perhaps none of them captured the excitement of the fans more than Trevor Dean Senn, the diminutive warrior who backed down from no one.

Senn: I just had to go fight 'em
By Tom Brandt

Date Posted: 02/29/2008

Photos courtesy of Pattie Anderson, Bill Vaughan and Richmond Renegades

RICHMOND, Va. - Through the years, many minor-league hockey enforcers have created lasting memories while plying their trade on Richmond Coliseum ice. Perhaps none of them captured the excitement of the fans more than Trevor Dean Senn, the diminutive warrior who backed down from no one.

On December 28, nearly 5,000 fans gathered to say thanks to the fearless right winger one last time when Renegades owner Allan B. Harvie, Jr. officially retired his No. 25 during the second intermission of Richmond's 5-4 victory over Fayetteville.

Followed by a spotlight, Senn arrived at center ice atop a convertible, flanked by his family. Joined by Brian Goudie and Dan Vandermeer, Harvie offered words of appreciation to the man who had meant so much to Richmond hockey and its fans.

Harvie then presented him with a teal and white Renegade No. 25 jersey that had been specially framed for the event, followed by a banner with Senn's likeness that unfurled from the Coliseum rafters.

Taking over the microphone, Senn offered thanks to his family, friends, teammates and fans as his voice cracked with emotion.

Few fans knew Senn better than Jo Ann and Norman "Hot Rod" Wall, who befriended him early in his Richmond playing days. He and other teammates had spent many weekends at their beachfront home, jet-skiing and hanging out.

The Walls lost that home and almost all their belongings when Hurricane Isabel struck in 2003. One of the few items they could salvage was a cherished game-worn jersey that Senn had given them years before, the very same one that Harvie presented to him during the ceremony.

Outside of Richmond, few people know any more about Senn than they could learn from a well-known video clip in which he and Ken Tasker pound each other with straight rights for what seems like five minutes. It represents him well, but falls short of telling the whole story.

Senn's prolific fists earned him roster spots on several teams through his career. His 1,672 PIMs in 231 Renegade games dominate the stat sheet, but 55 goals and 89 assists verify that his contributions to the team went further than just the tough stuff.

"Trevor didn't just go out there to fight, he knew how to play the game. He was good enough to go out on the power play, too. That's pretty cool -- a guy with his role being able to play like that," former teammate Darren Wetherill said.

Years of practice playing and fighting preceded Senn's 14-year pro career.

Born April 7, 1970, to Lloyd and Karen Senn in the little town of Kindersley, Saskatchewan, Trevor first hit the ice at age three. Although nobody else in his family played hockey, the game came naturally to him and he excelled, captaining some of his teams.

Before his sixteenth birthday, the AAA Midget ranks lured him to the bustling city of Saskatoon. To sustain the effort, Karen maintained a separate residence there, also billeting two other players. Lloyd joined them on weekends for games.

Trevor's scrappy tendencies as a youngster eventually made their way to the ice.

"My first fight came in Midget hockey. I picked the biggest guy, and I got beat up. The first thing my Dad said when he got down to the locker room was 'you've got to get inside on those big ones.' Meanwhile, I'm sitting there with a big black eye, but he wasn't worried about that," Senn said.

That experience laid the groundwork for his eventual role in hockey.

"In juniors I started fighting a lot, but still had a hundred points. Later on in juniors, they picked all the best 20-year-olds in the league, and we went to a tournament in Boston. There were scouts there from the East Coast League. I got a couple of calls, went to try out, and made the (Winston-Salem) team," he said.

Playing under coaching legend Doug Sauter, he spent two seasons between '91 and '93 with the ECHL Thunderbirds.

"I got into two fights the first period of my first game. Coach said, 'OK, now I need to see if you can actually play.' My next shift I fought again and got tossed from the game," Senn said.

Despite the coach's apprehension, Senn felt secure in his role.

"I think those three fights earned me a spot on that team," he said.

Fighting quickly became his niche, and he racked up 557 PIMs in his 98 games with Sauter, but also added 76 points.

Ironically, one of Senn's worst injuries occurred off the ice.

"I got traded to Greensboro in '94, but couldn't go at first because I tore my knee ligaments in a bar fight. I did make the final four games of the season there so I could make the playoff roster," he said.

Fifteen games into the 1994-95 season Greensboro traded Senn to South Carolina. Then after just 15 games with the Stingrays they traded him to Richmond, a team looking to toughen up a bit. They had been pushed around long enough by John Brophy's Hampton Roads Admirals.

Senn came out swinging in his first game with Richmond, going toe to toe on Hampton ice with Admiral tough guy Brian Goudie, among others. The Renegades had their man.

Still slowed by the knee injury, Senn had little more than fisticuffs to offer his new team at first, but brought that in large doses with 98 PIMs in his first nine games. He quickly caught the attention of the fans and the respect of his teammates.

"He'd go through a wall for any of us. Whenever I'd get in trouble, it was usually Trevor that came to bail me out," former Renegade veteran Scott Gruhl said. "As a goal scorer, I got tested often. I never was a good fighter, and at 35, I had no business going out there and fighting 20-year-olds. Trevor would tell me, 'Hey, I'm the young guy here, let me do that for you.' That's just the kind of guy he was."

Senn took care of his teammates and put on a good show for the fans. With 14 goals and 20 assists in his 52 post-season games in Richmond, he turned it on when it mattered most, including the 1994-95 playoffs.

"Greensboro had traded me that year, so it was pretty cool getting to play them in the finals. With about six minutes left in the final game there was a scrum behind the net. I just flipped the puck out front, and (Mike) Taylor put it in between the goalie's legs," Senn said.

That play not only clenched Richmond's only Riley Cup championship, but also elevated Senn to hero status among many of the 10,000 fans in attendance.

Senn's 1995-96 season began in Richmond and included an eye-popping 507 PIMs along with 22 points in 28 games. A 27 game call-up to AHL Baltimore rates as his proudest career achievement, but also introduced him to some of his toughest adversaries.

"In my first four games in Baltimore, I fought the four toughest guys in the league. One of them, Rumun Ndur, hit me so hard that my back two molars broke in half. I was spitting out dust the rest of the game," Senn said. "Another time I squared off with Wade Belak. I was cut and bleeding, so I had to go get stitched up. After the game, their coach came up to me and told me to call him if I ever needed a job."

Senn returned to Richmond for 85 more games between 1998 and 2000, adding 38 points and 540 PIMs before the Renegades decided to take a different direction.

"They didn't call me or anything… obviously they didn't want me back," Senn said.

He spent the next four seasons with UHL Adirondack, then retired in 2005 after one final UHL season in Richmond -- a place he still calls home.

"I played 15 years, but Richmond was my favorite place; the fans, the hockey, the people - everything," he said.

Count his wife Christine tops among the special people he met here. Soon they expect the arrival of their third son.

Senn coaches the team his 8-year-old son Gunnar plays on, and 2-year-old Cooper will start in a couple of seasons. Senn aims to look after them better than he did himself.

"I played a lot of times when I shouldn't have -- with concussions, my back injured - coaches expect you to play through injuries," he said.

Indeed, the battles Senn fought during his rough and tumble career took a toll, requiring surgeries to his back, face, shoulder, knees and hands to repair the damage. Doctor's orders rarely slowed his return to the ice, though.

"Nothing did. If someone thought they were tougher than me, I just had to go fight 'em. I don't know why I always picked the biggest guys… that's just my M.O."

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Photo captions:

1) Senn's jersey retirement ceremony. From left: Dan Vandermeer, Brian Goudie, Trevor Senn with sons Gunnar and Cooper, Christine Senn, Allan B. Harvie, Jr. and mascot Boomer (Anderson).

2) ECHL Renegades right wing Trevor Senn (Vaughan courtesy of Allan B. Harvie Jr.).

3) Senn's banner in Richmond Coliseum (Anderson).

Click images to enlarge.

Trevor Senn's jersey retirement ceremony

ECHL Renegades right wing Trevor Senn

Trevor Senn's banner hangs in Richmond Coliseum

Last Edited By: pat15 Mar 5 08 4:39 AM. Edited 1 time.