15 years... hard to believe the Huron Perth Lakers have been providing AAA hockey for elite athletes for that long. It just seems like yesterday we gathered in the Blyth Arena for a gala celebrating our 10th anniversary. We had a lot of progress in the first 10 years and the Lakers have continued to see growth in the last 5 years. Players graduating from the program and now playing in the NHL. Record number of players being selected in the OHL draft.
The first time it occurred to me that we needed regional AAA hockey was when I was coaching the Brussels Bulls Junior C team and a 14 year old from Wallace. He was a top six forward on a top team, was the MVP of the all star game, an impact player who went on to play in the OHL and professional. But should a 14 year old be playing with 21 year olds? As a PeeWee in his home centre he played Bantam and scored a ton of goals and won an OMHA Championship. There needed to be another level of hockey for a player of his skill level. I often wonder how that player would have developed if there was AAA available at that time.
In the early days it wasn't always the best players who made the Lakers as many people took a wait and see attitude. But some dedicated and hard working volunteers pushed ahead and today we have a strong organization. In the past we would struggle to get enough ice time for one practice a week and now teams average two practices a week. Coaches would have to hard sell the benefits of playing AAA but now most players and parents understand the advantages.
Not every parent of a player in AAA hockey thinks their little darling will play in the NHL. They want to see their child play with players of similar skill and watch as they challenge the best players in the Province.
To those who gave birth to the Huron Perth Lakers, to those who helped push it to the next level and to those who currently strive to keep the high standards of the program... congratulations. It truly is a team effort. I encourage all former players, coaches, parents and executive members to support the Lakers Annual Golf Tourney
on July 9th to renew friendships and make sure this great organization continues to be strong.
Coach, Parent of an Alumni and past Executive Member