As we continue to live through this unprecedented time in Canada with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, the 2019-2020 hockey season will never be forgotten.
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As we watch the news from around the world we are quickly reminded of the real problems people in the world and throughout Canada are experiencing. It is for these reasons that I am experiencing mixed emotions as I summarize our Minor Bantam season. It is strange to be writing a year end write up when our hockey season never came to an actual end (in a true hockey sense!)
I think it is important that we take a few minutes to celebrate the year we had! Too often these days as coaches, parents and players we move on to the next thing, start planning for all the things we need to do next but often forget to take the time to celebrate the season that was.
As I reflect on our past season I can’t believe how far each and everyone of our players have come. Whether it was improvements in individual skills such as skating or shooting, team skills such as defensive zone play or whether you have made improvements to be a better teammate. The dedication you have each shown to improve collectively made us a better team.
Of course we set a number team goals to challenge ourselves. This team was amazing again this year and we never lost focus of those goals and were able to have met all of them, including making the Alliance final.
We won 47 games and saw a 9 point improvement in our regular season total of 53 points. This was good enough to be crowned the Alliance East Champions for the first time. This was truly a remarkable accomplishment recognizing the fact we did not play a single game with our entire roster after September 22nd.
We challenged ourselves to a rigorous tournament schedule in Peterborough, multiple Toronto tournaments, Notre Dame, the Great Lakes Cup and International Silver Stick. We played in meaningful games on Sunday in most of these tournaments including winning the Peterborough IceFest tournament.
I believe we have really established ourselves over the past two years as a top team not only in the Alliance but in all of Ontario.
Regretfully, Hockey Canada’s announcement on Thursday March the 12th two days before our Alliance finals were set to begin effectively ended our season. I am sure, like me and the other coaches all of our parents and players experienced a range of emotions that evening and in the days that followed. It is unfortunate that such a successful season ended this way, the countless hours dedicated to practicing and playing in order to reach our final goal of an Alliance championship. To have earned the opportunity to play in the finals and to see the excitement in our change room after our final semi-final game against London was something I will never forget. At the same time, this group of players remained committed to the idea that we had one more series to win before they would actually celebrate our season. There is no doubt that we were playing our best hockey of the season heading into the finals and would have been successful. For them to not have that opportunity saddens me. That being said, as a coach we always strive for teaching moments with our players. I have said many times to the boys that hockey is not your life but a part of your life and the lessons you learn through playing hockey will help shape and define your character as they become adults. I can't think of a better example of a time where this has been more true.
Finally, I could not possibly wrap up without acknowledging on
behalf of the coaching staff and players our parent group. You make our jobs easy when you dedicate yourselves and your family to our AAA program and having the boys at the rinkwhenever we need them there.
This season would not have been possible without my great coaching and support staff that included: Scott Bogart, Andrew MacIsaac, Steve Schroeder, Mike Nicoll, Erica Baier and Rob Didiomete. As I conclude my time as a coach with the Lakers organization, I would also like to thank Pete and Jerry for giving me the opportunity to coach this great group of players over the past two years and the entire executive for their support over this time.
I can speak for all of the coaches that each and everyone of you players were a joy to coach and you made it fun coming to the rink each and everyday. I know as a team you are in a great place for future success and I hope to have the opportunity to watch all of you as Lakers or wherever your hockey journey brings you over the next couple of years! See you all back at the rink in the fall and stay healthy.