The EDSS boys have clinched the regional hockey championship for the first time in decades. Playing at the Central Western Ontario Secondary School Association (CWOSSA) championships last week in Fergus, the Lancers brought home the title with four straight wins.
The perfect performance earned Elmira its first regional win in boys’ hockey since the 1960s, and sets EDSS up as the fourth-seeded team out of 16 at the upcoming Ontario provincials, to be held in Barrie next week.
“I think all the teams are going to be pretty solid once we get there, but I certainly think that we have a good a chance as any of the teams up there to win it,” said head coach David Munroe. “Being in the top four certainly puts us in a good spot – if we play as well as we can, I think we can beat anybody there. Our expectations going up there is we have hopes to do well and medal, for sure.”
The Lancers are certainly going into the provincials with their heads held high, as the Elmira team knocked out its rivals at the regionals without taking a scratch. Playing first against Owen Sound and Orangeville on day-one of the two-day event, March 4, the boys earned back to back wins by scores of 2-1 and 6-1, respectively, placing them on a direct collision course with Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School in the semi-final games the following day.
Again, the Lancers came through, knocking out Waterloo-Oxford in a 6-1 landslide. The final matchup between EDSS and Resurrection proved to be a much tighter game, with Elmira squeaking by with a 4-3 finish.
The perfect CWOSAA session came on the back of an undefeated regular season at the Waterloo County Secondary School Athletics Association (WCSSAA). The team’s stellar performance can be attributed to a significant rule change at the Waterloo County games this year that allowed players from the Elmira Junior Sugar Kings minor hockey team to play for the high school.
“It’s been huge. Up until this year, all these guys weren’t able to play and now because of the rule change, 85 per cent of our team is made up of those Junior Sugar Kings guys,” said Munroe. “That team, being one of the best of in the province in the OMHA at that level, then all those guys playing together all year makes a big difference.”
The injection of new players from the Junior Kings puts the EDSS team on a more equal footing with other schools playing in the OFSAA series, noted Munroe.
“The whole premise behind [the initial rule] was that whenever they changed that rule 25 years ago, their hope was to make more of an opportunity for non-club players … to have an opportunity to play high school hockey. The problem now is that you have to change with the times,” said Munroe.
“What we found was the OFSAA rule is that anybody can play unless you’re playing Junior B, C, D hockey,” he added. “We were just kind of putting ourselves in a hole where we’re not putting our best teams forward when we go to CWOSAA and OFSAA, because [we were] pigeon-holing ourselves not allowing our better players to play hockey for our high school.”
The rule change will put EDSS in line with other schools participating at the regional and provincial games.
“Our stance was, whatever the provincial standard is with allowing players to play, we should follow suit if we want to be successful outside of WCSSAA,” said Munroe.
Earning four wins in as many games at the regionals, the boys will be hoping to carry on the momentum into the upcoming Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) provincials in Barrie, March 20-22.