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Apr 13, 2023 | APRadmin | 766 views
Another hockey season has come and gone, and I could not be prouder to have been part of this group. It started with two towns who were long time foes and quickly became a unified solidarity that grew stronger as the season went on and defined the term “team.” Our kids deserve all the credit for making this year’s inaugural amalgamation a success. They realized that both Ajax and Pickering needed one another to field competitive teams. The coaches knew, early on, that this was a talented group that could achieve some special accomplishments throughout the year.

The U15 BB team saw success right out of the gate with a strong start in September, through exhibition play. This led to early regular season success. The kids were not only winning but having a ton of fun while competing. With success comes a variable that cannot be overlooked and is something that cannot be taught and that we wish for all our children, confidence. The boys took their confidence into their first tournament of the year and went 6 and 0 to win a gold medal in St. Thomas. What a fantastic feeling it was!

Throughout the year, one thing was evident, they competed every shift. Win or lose, they competed until the final buzzer. They displayed “Good Habits” on and off the ice. They were reminded that nothing in life is given to them, but instead, anything is possible through hard work and sacrifice. There are no hand outs in life and success must be earned. As a coach and a parent of two, my message always extends past hockey and sports. We can learn so many things from organized sport that will make us better people in our future endeavors.

As we fast forward into the lakeshore playdowns, the boys continued to improve. They dominated their double round robin format with another stretch of wins, going 6 and 0 to win the Victoria Durham League Division Championship banner. This was a special moment for us, as a group. Proof of the boy’s hard work, but we knew that work was not yet complete.

They qualified for the OMHA Championships, in Windsor. We started with a 6-4 win against the Oakville Rangers. The game was played in the WFCU Bowl, where the Windsor Spitfires play, which was a special venue for any team to play in. Next, the boys beat the Bluewater Champions, the Kent Cobras, 6-2 and then a rough Haldimand team 5-3 to finish 3 and 0 in round robin play. The team completed a combined stretch of 9 and 0 into the semi finals against a strong Milton team. It was a tight defensive battle and unfortunately, they could not overcome a 2-0 deficit, early in the third period, before falling 3-1. Milton went on to win the championship, which was, well earned. At least our boys can say they lost to the champs, but the message was, “We never lose, we always learn.”

While the outcome was very disappointing at the time, after a few days, the boys realized that they achieved great things this season and had so much fun, making new bonds with teammates and coaches and enjoying success while growing and developing at the game of hockey. To the parents, you demonstrated great teamwork, flexibility, and commitment all year long. It is no wonder this team was as successful as it was with boys who followed your lead and demonstrated those characteristics throughout the year.

I would like to thank the AP Raiders organization for a fantastic year. You went above and beyond to ensure the amalgamation was a success. I would like to thank the volunteer staff on my team. To the coaches, trainer, treasurer, and manager, you dedicated your time for, not only your own kids, but 16 others to have a fun season. Without volunteers like yourselves youth hockey would not happen. Most parents do not understand the tireless hours, behind the scenes that so many people sacrifice for our kids to play the game of hockey. And to “my boys,” I feel very lucky to have had so much fun with a great group of kids. I looked forward to every practice, game, or event this year. They showed me the value of hard work, effort, teamwork, and resiliency. I will never forget it. I wish nothing but the best for this group in the future.

Thank you