Our Fabled "Hockey Family", News (Owen Sound Minor Hockey Group)

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Mar 22, 2024 | Loretta Emonts | 1617 views
Our Fabled "Hockey Family"
We all hear stories of the fabled “hockey family”. The narrative that we spend so much time in the rink and in camaraderie together, that we create a universal bond. Tonight, at the Harry Lumley Bayshore, we bore witness to the Jr. Attack Hockey Family in action.

In 2019, I approached the Jr. Attack executive with a proposal to create a special needs hockey program. At the time there was my son and another player that were dedicated to the Jr Attack but were approaching an age where the rules and the structures of the game were becoming beyond their limitations. Our executive embraced the program with open arms, and COVID gave us the opportunity to sculpt a program that was designed for kids who could not participate in a traditional season of hockey.

The goal was to create an inclusive space for kids with special needs and kids aged 12 and up who have never played hockey before. The season, running October to March, is designed to teach the fundamentals of hockey and basic skating and puck handling skills.  

Tonight, our Jr Attack family pulled together to celebrate the success of the program and the love of the game. Proud and grateful does not even begin to describe how I feel for everyone involved. The U11LL Red Team, the U15LL White team, and other members of Jr Attack organization, came together to give our program graduates a season ending game that is now cemented in Minor Hockey history.

Taking on a leadership role, our U15 players understood that it was their job to guide the other players, move the puck around, and provide game play opportunities to their younger counterparts on the ice. Atley Sampson (U15LL White) recited the pregame speech from Miracle on Ice  “Great moments are born from great opportunities…” to his fellow U15 players. I overheard Colton McKeachnie (U15A), encouraging a LTP player joining him on defence with a “Come on buddy, it’s you and me together”. They stepped onto the ice and into their positions as role models .

The U11LL Red players were only approached on Wednesday, yet they showed up in full force. They came to play, to have fun and to create a competitive game for our Learn to Play graduates. We have 3 players joining the Local League program next year, and the players from this U11 team will be their future teammates. The U11LL Red team were welcoming and supportive, and created an environment that embraced the essence of hockey. Without knowing it, they have created a seamless transition into the Local League program, and familiar faces our players will be looking out for.

The support extended past the players showing up.  For my son, Gavin, the heroes of the ice are always the referees. When at games, they are the skaters we cheer for the loudest. Scott Catto (Mr. Catto to our Gavin) volunteered to come out tonight as our head referee. He welcomed Gavin, a second-year participant of LTP, as a fellow official and designated puck dropper. As the Coach for the white team tonight, I do think Gavin made some questionable calls, but as his parent, I am incredibly grateful for this level of support and acceptance in our community.

Oh boy what a community it is. From outside it would be hard to grasp the sheer power and influence that a collection of people can have. A call went out to fill the stands in support tonight, and you answered. There were fans in the seats with horns, cheering on breakaways, great saves and goals. There were executive members watching from the boards, and in the changerooms prior to the game pumping up our players. There were family members, EA’s from schools, friends and hockey enthusiasts. With an added and unexpected bonus, Fred Wallace’s voice boomed over the PA system, enhancing the overall experience.

Next time you hear someone referring to their “hockey family”, this is really what it means. We have the support of adults, that identified a need and filled it without question. We have a congregation of players that were asked to be role models, who filled the role flawlessly without question. We have community members that showed up, for the pure love of the game. Most importantly, we have a new avenue, where we wholeheartedly embrace the mission of “hockey is for everyone”. So from this Hockey Mom, to her Hockey Family, I want to say Thank You and I am sincerely proud of you.

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