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.