From a dozen boys’ hockey teams across the region, one player stood out among the pack.
Connor Duench was named this year’s league MVP for the Waterloo County Secondary School Athletics Association. Duench is a fifth-year student at Elmira District Secondary School who served as goalie for Elmira’s boys’ hockey team this season.
Despite EDSS finishing in fourth, the coaches agreed he was worthy of the most valuable player designation.
“It’s a really big honour. I was kind of speechless. It was really cool when Mr. Munroe texted me and told me about it,” Duench said of being notified by his coach.
Duench has also helped fill in goaltending duties with the Elmira Sugar Kings on occasion.
He’s sad to see his high school hockey years come to an end, but is thankful for the recognition from the coaches.
“I wish I could have got to play another year at least or a couple years. It was a lot of fun, I made a lot of new friends through it and had a really good time,” Duench said.
Next season he plans to try out for some junior hockey teams, and if those don’t work out he’ll try out for the Woolwich juvenile team.
EDSS teacher and boys’ hockey coach Dave Munroe said Duench was a clear choice as his nominee for the award.
“It was pretty unanimous. I just piped up at the start, made my case for him, with regards to his numbers with his save percentage and his minutes and his goals against. Some of the other teams had a lot more skill upfront and for us to finish top four in WCSSAA, a large portion of that was because of him. Without him we would have been closer to the bottom of the league,” Munroe said.
He notes most of their losses were only by one goal, except for their final game against Grand River, so the other coaches had the chance to see how good he was and they were on board with him getting it.
At the meeting they also decided, based on how well each team did, how many players would be selected for the first and second all-star teams, as well as honourable mentions. The all star teams don’t actually play a game, it’s just to recognize their work. Colby Bond was named to the second team from Elmira, and Tyler Martin received an honourable mention.
Back when Munroe played high school hockey, they used to have the all-stars play the team that won WCSSAA, but they don’t do that anymore.
At the meeting, they also talked about changing the rules for next season regarding if A, AA, and AAA players can play high school hockey too, which wasn’t allowed this year. All the coaches emailed in their votes on that and they should know if the rule is changing for the next season soon.
Duench will receive the MVP trophy with his name on it to keep for a while. Munroe says he’s glad to see him get this type of recognition.
“He worked pretty hard, he saw a lot of rubber this year, so it’s nice to be rewarded for his efforts,” Munroe said.
He adds that he believes Duench has the skill to play at the Junior B level if there’s a team next season with an opening.
“From what I’ve seen he definitely has the ability to play at that level,” Munroe said.
While Duench wasn’t the most vocal player in the room, Munroe says his leadership shone through in other ways.
“The guys, definitely when he’s in net, have a confidence because of the fact they know how good he is and they know that he’s going to keep them in every game.”