Yatton Rams bring home silver
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Yatton Rams bring home silver

Like most Canadian kids, members of the Yatton Rams grew up playing road hockey with tennis balls and makeshift nets on the streets around their homes.

Tony Martin, Brant McLaughlin, Colin Wideman, Luke Charter, Jedrek Martin, Tyler Martin and Connor Bauman earned a spot in the Play On! ball hockey national championships later this summer with a second place finish at the London regionals over the Victoria Day weekend. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
Tony Martin, Brant McLaughlin, Colin Wideman, Luke Charter, Jedrek Martin, Tyler Martin and Connor Bauman earned a spot in the Play On! ball hockey national championships later this summer with a second place finish at the London regionals over the Victoria Day weekend. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
Over the Victoria Day weekend, things got a little more serious for the group of Elmira District Secondary School students.

The Yatton Rams – Jedrek Martin, Brant McLaughlin, Tyler Martin, Colin Wideman, Connor Bauman, Luke Charter and Tony Martin – competed in the Hockey Night in Canada Play On! four-on-four ball hockey tournament in London, Ont., finishing second in the under-17 age category.

“We played well and were happy with how it went,” Jedrek Martin said, noting the team was seventh after a three-game round robin, before hitting their stride in the single-game elimination round.

Asked to describe the key to the team’s success, Martin paused, before coming up with a unique response.

“I think it’s our Mennonite background – we all work really hard.”

The Play On! tournament started in Halifax in 2003 in partnership with the National Hockey League and TSN. After a brief hiatus in 2006 during the NHL lockout, the event remerged with backing from the CBC. In the years since, the event has exploded in popularity, with 21 annual tournaments located all across the country and some 1.5 million participants to date.

Now, with the CBC transitioning out of the hockey broadcasting business, Rogers Sportsnet has taken up the Play On! mantle, looking to promote “hockey culture in a wholesome, festival atmosphere that makes kids feel like NHL pros and helps adults feel like kids again.”

Each year, the event culminates with a national championship where the best of the best battle it out for the Redwood Cup.

With their second place finish in the London qualifier, the Rams earned a spot at the finals, set for September 30-October 1 in Lethbridge, Alberta.

It’s an exciting opportunity for the group to test their skills against teams from across Canada; and there are big screen televisions up for grabs, too.

To help offset the costs of getting out west for the event, the group of high school students are getting creative. They’re planning on driving, rather than flying, and are hoping to find accommodation with friends in the area.

They’re also seeking support from local businesses that might be interested in having their names on their burgundy and gold jerseys.

In the meantime, they’ll be out on the streets honing their skills, eager to win the title of world’s best ball hockey team for their age group.

A little more local for your inbox.

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