Coaches reflect on season that was 0
The ice is gone. The arenas are silent. The birds are filling the air with sounds of spring, but the memories will live forever.
Highland Storm two hockey teams are extremely satisfied with this past 2011-2012 season. The Storm Peewee AEs and the Bantam B girls' team coaches Bob Schmidt and Dan Marsden reflected on their seasons, which included tournament wins and a place at the provincials for the first time. It was also a stellar year for the Bantam AE boys' team, which made it to the OMHA finals. They played the TavistockTitans ending series in three games. Coaches were Dave McKay, Kevin Hamilton and Gord Wood. The coaching staff was unavailable to speak about the team for this article.
This year marked the first provincial showing for the girls' team, as they earned a spot at the Ontario Women's Hockey Association Provincial Championship.
Although they finished winless, despite a hard-fought 1-0 loss to the Sudbury Wolves in the opener (arguably their best game of the season), coach Dan Marsden was proud of his team's performance on the provincial stage.
"Every game was kind of like a grinding playoff game. I don't think we were outclassed. The talent level was a little in the other team's favour, but for the games to be one or two goal differentials (1-0, 3-1 and 2-1) we were in every game," he said.
The majority of the teams they faced, he said, often draw upon a larger pool of players where there is a girls' hockey association. The Storm team is the only girls team in the area. Development is a little more challenging, he said, compared to associations where there are often 100 players to draw from.
Seemingly against the odds, this team competed well against much larger hockey centres for girls.
"We have a great group of girls and wonderful group of parents. We have a good team. I told the girls: We are a good team. I always tell them, play with a little bit of confidence. Play with a little bit of an edge, but make it smart hockey don't pull bonehead penalties. We were in every game. As a coaching staff we were extremely happy with how we did."
Marsden's highlight of the season came when he pulled his goalie for an extra attacker down a goal in the dying seconds of an important provincial qualifier in the third game of a three-game, four point series against Clearwater.
"With 1:30 left we pulled our goalie. We scored a goal with 17 seconds left in the game to tie it. Everybody was ecstatic and went kinda nuts. It was wicked to pull a goalie and score a goal," he said.
The Storm had won the first and tied the second game in the series so they needed a tie or win to advance to the provincials.
The Storm Peewee AEs went deep into the post-season with a trip to the OMHA finals.
They took a series sweep (3-0) against the Lakefield Chiefs in the semi-finals to earn the finals berth.
Despite losing in the finals (0-3), the Storm team can still hold their heads high with a determined effort in the three-game series, which were all close.
The season consisted of two tournament wins (Cambellford Colts and Huntsville Otters), and a second place in the Silver Stick.
"Every game all the players gave 110 per cent on the ice. Overall we showed great Storm sportsmanship and never quit attitude," coach Schmidt said in an email.
They showed resilience with come from behind ties and victories early in the season, he adds. He also thanked his players for their hard work, dedication and energy.
Schmidt ended his email with the team's regular cheer of "Who are we . Storm!"
For all the success neither team could have done it without the support of trainers, coaches, players and parents. Both coaches said they couldn't express their gratitude enough.
The Peewee AE coaching staff included coach Schmidt, Jon Petrie, trainer Tom Prentice, Jason Stoughton and Dana Manning, manager.
Co-coach Marsden, who has been the coach of the bantam B girls' team for five years, said co-coach Jason Billings, assistant coaches (Seana Allore and Chris Little), managers and parents were invaluable to him and the team.
Marsden, a Haliburton Highlands Secondary School principal and Red Hawks girls' hockey coach, gives a lot of credit to co-coach Billings, who assumed greater leadership and ownership of the team this year. His busy schedule didn't give him the time to coach as much as he liked.
Next season, as a team, the girls will all move up in age category to play midget hockey as there will be greater numbers. Marsden didn't rule out tryouts though for next year with the potential for more players.
Both coaches spoke of the team's excitement and anxiousness to return to the ice.
As the popular phrase goes, there is always next year.