The Wellesley Applejacks may have been eliminated from the playoffs a few weeks ago, but hockey is still going strong in Twin Centre thanks to three teams advancing to the Ontario Minor Hockey Association finals. The Novice Rep (7-8 years old), Atom AE (10-11) and Bantam Rep (13-14) have all advanced to the provincial finals following outstanding regular seasons that saw them at or near the top of their league standings. The Atom AE team finished third in their division with a 17-4-1 record, the Bantam Rep team finished second with an 18-0-2 record, and the Novice Rep team capped off an amazing undefeated season, finishing 20-0-0 for first overall.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Twin Centre’s president Kevin Kraemer, whose son Kyle is also a member of the Novice Rep team.“The teams have always been able to compete, but it seems this year that we were able to step it up a little more and make it to the final.”
As far back as Kraemer can remember to his own playing days, this is the first time that three Twin Centre teams have made it to the finals in the same year, which he credits to a shakeup at the Initiation/Tyke level a few years back.
“Four or five years ago we switched it up to get them on the ice three times per week, and we’ve really put a focus on getting them on the ice more often,” he said. “By the time any kid gets to novice they know how to stop, how to pass, and they’ve gotten those basic skills.”
Both the Novice and Atom players would have experienced this new coaching style, and Kraemer hopes to have even more success with it in the future.
The Bantam Rep team has taken a 1-0 series lead (best of six points) against Blenheim thanks to a 3-2 win on Tuesday night, and head coach Brock Gerber is proud of how far his team has come this season.
“We’ve had a very strong season, and hopefully we can keep it going,” he said, adding that the team has had to overcome a disappointing semi-final loss in the Silver Stick tournament last December.
The Atom AE club has taken a 2-0 series lead over their opponents from Centre Hastings thanks to a 10-3 and 4-1 win last weekend on the road, and look to finish off the finals with a three-game sweep on Friday night in Wellesley.
“Our big thing this year was to play for your teammates,” said head coach Steve Krulicki. “It’s a good early age to get them thinking that way because as you move on in any sport it’s all about the team. Play for the team, play for your teammates.”
The Novice Rep team kept their undefeated streak alive with a 9-1 win over South Huron in Game 1 of the finals last weekend, and look to keep the fairytale season intact in which they’ve also claimed the International Silver Stick in January by going 5-0.
Game 2 was set for Thursday night but results were unavailable before press. For a full schedule of games, visit www.tcmha.ca.