This past weekend a group of young ball hockey players representing the
New Tecumseth Ball Hockey League (NTBHL) traveled to Mississauga to
stake their claim as 2012 Tyke AA Provincial Champions.
The first game saw them pitted up a very good team from Cambridge. The
boys were nervous yet excited to get their challenge underway and when
the ball dropped it saw the team from Cambridge take charge. With some
back and forth action the Xtreme players were starting to find their
rhythm. Unfortunately, after the first period the boys were down 3 to 1.
The in between period speech refocused the boys and they knew what
challenge they had before them. After a dominating start to the period
which saw them tie and eventually take the lead was pure magic. A
combination of great passing, teamwork and overall ability to commit to
their roles had them firing on all cylinders. Cambridge found an
opening and tied the game and you could feel the tension fill the
arena. You could see the Xtreme players chest swell with the notion
that this was their game and they were going to buckle down and go for
it all. Then it happened. Some great pressure and the ball found the
back of the Cambridge net.
The boys then took a page from the NHL and created a neutral zone trap
that would have impressed the most seasoned NHL coach let alone the
ones on the bench that day. A great game and hats off to the Cambridge
team for an excellent game. The final was 5 to 4 for the Xtreme.
The second game matched the Xtreme up against a storied organization
from Penetang. A rivalry that is deep in tradition with games that
bring out the best in both squads. The Xtreme player's butterflies were
gone and under a new motto the team found themselves running like a
well oiled machine. Some very good pressure and outright determination
the boys played hard and committed. The motto "use the force" was
incorporated into the fabric of the team and wow what a great game. The
boys dominated all facets of the game and ended up on top with the
final score being 6 to 2 for the Xtreme. Off to the Quarter Finals.
The match up for the Quarter Finals was against Brampton
and it was a game that the boys knew they had to win. Wanting to be on
the Championship side of the tournament the focus of the players was
evident right from the start of the game. Going out quickly and
pressuring the Brampton defense and ensuring that they supported each
other showed the strength of this squad. A dominating first period came
to an end with the Xtreme up 5 to 0. The second period saw the players
switch gears and focus on their passing and ability to control the
tempo of the game. What a pleasure to watch as they worked extremely
hard on positioning and doing their jobs. The final score was 10 to 0
for the Xtreme.
Semi Final match ups were much anticipated as the
competition got tougher as the day went on. Kitchener, up next for the
mighty Xtreme players who were now starting to show a swagger that was
there all along, but just starting to creep to the surface. Ball drops
and look out they are out of the gate. The boys played well and showed
how important of a game this was and what it meant to them by going out
and dominating the team from Kitchener. With the officials having to
address the Kitchener bench and asking their coach to leave, we had to
make sure the boys stayed focussed. The boys remained composed and
ready to play and when the final buzzer went the boys had finished off
the game with a 5 to 1 win.
The boys arrived at the rink on Sunday morning ready to go. You could
see the excitement in their faces and their determination was that of a
seasoned athlete. The question was asked what about this team from
Withrow Park. They boys thought and knew deep inside them that it
wasn't about the team from Withrow Park but about them. About them
finding it deep inside them the ability to believe in yourself and to
believe in the player beside them, that would make them Champions.
The boys took to the floor with the noise of a stadium that could hold
twenty thousand screaming fans. The energy was unbelievable and the
players soaked it all in as if they were sponges. Here we go. Ball
drops and it is an outright juggernaut that appears wearing the Xtreme
uniform. The boys went out and played every shift like it was their
last, not giving an inch to a very good team from Withrow.
Some back and forth scoring and great goaltending that went down to the
last few minutes of the game. With the score 3 to 2 for the Xtreme the
Withrow team took a 'too many men' penalty with 44.6 seconds left. The
building was electric and starting to fill as more spectators were
moving in to watch the end to a very exciting game. With some quick
line adjustments the pressure was on the players from the Xtreme to
defend their hard earned lead. With the ball never really entering the
Xtreme end and a well placed shot into an empty net the score was now 4
to 2 with 12.9 seconds to go. The game ends and the young players from
the Xtreme rush the floor and celebrate as Champions do.
I would like to thank each player for their commitment to themselves
and to their teammates and to their coaches. The swagger is now yours
to carry until you step on that floor again next year in the defense of
your title of 2012 Tyke AA Provincial Champions. Absolutely, great
goaltending throughout the tournament by Joshua Swanko.
Outstanding defense by a rock solid group of boys, Jacob Duggan, Tyler
Gobel, Carter Longland and Jack Price.
Tenacious pressure and back checking by forwards Wylie Birkett, Carter
Lundy, Garryn real, Michael Bottrell, Aiden Jacobs, Mark Laver, Kyle
Jordan, Fletcher McCague, Cohen Heath and Lucas Gurski.
What a great group of young players that not only represented the NTBHL
well on the floor but also around the rink, at the hotel and in
I am so very thankful to a great group of coaches for their insight,
leadership and ability to inspire young hockey players, I couldn't have
done it without you. Thanks to Rob Real, Mike Longland and to Roy Laver.
To the parent group, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins
thank you for all your cheering and your constant strength of
supporting our team. A special thank you to `Little`Luke Gobel and to
Reed Heath for their inspiration and shirtless goal celebrations, much
To Jamie, Kelly, Carter, Emma Lundy a special thanks for the after win
I would also like to mention the unbelievable support from the Xtreme
Tyke B Team coaches, parents and players. Thank you so much it meant
the world to us to have you there and it shows the spirit of community
within the NTBHL. What a true representation of what sport is all about.
My greatest of gratitude goes to the young players that worked hard to
make this team and to accomplish their goals. I look forward to this
time every year and get inspired by your dreams. I am more than humbled
each time by the grace and poise in which the way you represent
yourselves and your communities. You have paid me the greatest of
tributes by believing in yourselves and accomplishing your challenge,
just awesome guys, just awesome. Don't forget to USE THE FORCE boys. I
can't forget, thanks for the haircut.