It’s difficult to begin a speech on a year that has no resolution. No championship win to celebrate. No heart-breaking defeat to learn from. Simply an abrupt end to a year filled with fun, learning and development.
It’s hard to believe that almost a year ago we had our first tryout as a team at the Allman arena. We started the tryout a half hour late due to a power outage but the delay gave us the opportunity to learn the names and favourite teams of some of our future teammates.
As a coaching staff we are so proud of the boy’s refusal to quit, dedication to learning and commitment to excellence. They started the year with eight exhibition games, compiling a record of 1-6-1 and getting beat by scores of 12-1, 10-0 and 8-2 in the process. It would have been easy with the lack of tangible results to accept a losing culture. However, the boys refused to buy into this notion and instead of quitting, began to work harder and were rewarded with 4-0 and 1-0 victories to start the season.
This refusal to quit and commitment to excellence was a theme that the team carried with them throughout the rest of the season. At the end of November, a flu bug came through the dressing room and from November 24 to January 11 the boys would not play a game with a full lineup. The boys dug deep at this point, playing as hard as they could short handed trying to pick up the slack of their sick teammates. Eventually, everyone got back to 100% health and the Lakers helped Team Canada come away with a Nation’s Cup Championship in Ann Arbour, Michigan.
In the last weekend before the season was cancelled the boys found themselves in a must win situation. A loss in either of their two weekend games would likely knock them out of the championship side at the Alliance year end tournament. During both games the Lakers found themselves behind but, as they had done all year, they refused to give up and found a way to come out with the two victories they needed.
It was this never give up attitude and commitment to excellence that had the coaching staff excited to see what the boys would bring to the year end tournament. They were a team that had bounced back from adversity all year; a team that continued to strive to always be better than they were the day before; and were a team that could never be counted out.
To provide the boys the opportunity to compete at the high level they did this year, it takes a big commitment from each of their parents. Whether you were involved in fundraising, helping on the ice or bench, working the score clock, tracking shots, providing training supplies or making sure the boys got to the rink on time for games and practices, THANK YOU! Without everyone working together as a unit this would not have been possible.
Special thanks to Deanna Day who collected the sponsorship information for the banner and the website as well as running our TeamSnap account.
Special thanks to Kerrie Grant as our team treasurer keeping track of our team finances. It is a difficult position and we appreciate all the work Kerrie did to ensure things ran smoothly.
Another special thanks to Kory Dietz who served as parent rep for the team. In addition, Kory also ran a few skills sessions for the boys that they thoroughly enjoyed.
Thanks to Amelia Devlin, our team manager, ensuring hotels were booked, permits were acquired and all the documentation prior to our tournaments was ready to go.
A huge thank you to the assistant coaches Brad Lubbers, Todd Dittmer and Trevor Jutzi. Thank you for the time and effort you put in to helping these players become better hockey players and better people. Without the commitment you three made there is no way this would have been possible.
Lastly, and most importantly thank you to the players. It is difficult at 9 years old to make the commitment of being on the ice at least 4 times a week. It is even more difficult to make the commitment when you are in the car anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to go to these ice times. Though from August to March these boys got in the car came to the rink and went to work becoming the best people and hockey players they could be. Through all of it there was no complaining. At times it was tough but, they kept pushing themselves and their teammates to be better. I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to coach these hard working, dedicated, respectful, funny and intelligent young men and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them.