Picture the Canadian and USA flags blowing in the breeze, the sound of the national anthems ringing through the air as the players look on from center ice. No, this is not a scene stolen from Vancouver 2010. This describes the scene early one Saturday morning in January at Clearpoint Park in Pointe Claire. This was game one of a West Island – Dover hockey exchange where the Novice A Kings hosted the Dover Stars (Mites 1). And this was just the beginning…
Part two of this exchange took part this past weekend with the families of the Novice A Kings making the five and a half hour drive south to the town of Dover, New Hampshire. The Kings played three games over the weekend and each game was followed by a shootout letting each player try out their skills one-on-one against the other team’s goalie. On Friday night, the Kings succumbed to Stars 5 to 3. The game was followed by a pizza party hosted by the Kings coach’s and manger, to thank the parents for their dedication and to celebrate the end of the season with the players. After the pizza, there was a fierce mini-stick game, which only could be broken up hours later by tired parents in dire need of some sleep!
Saturday morning, the teams were matched up again. The score was tied 1-1 at the end of the game and the tie was only broken in double overtime, three against three. The game was followed by a brunch of champions at the arena. All of the Dover parents had contributed to provide the players and their families with a feast to fuel their afternoon shopping trip at outlets in Kittery, ME!
Saturday evening, the Stars hosted the Kings and their families to a social evening at the Redhook micro brewery. On the menu, “pulled pork” sandwiches for the adults and yes - a mini-stick tournament for the kids! Well, in Dover, it’s called knee-hockey, but the rules are the same. Teams were made combining players from both the Stars and the Kings. The result: multiple final rounds and over three hours of pure pleasure!
Sunday morning the Kings faced off against a team from Concord, New Hampshire and came off with a 5-0 win. As per their usual New England hospitality, the Dover team was there to cheer the Kings on and feed them after the game!
For the kids and parents alike, this trip was a wonderful way to end the season. Talks are already underway to make sure this exchange becomes a tradition! This exchange is what hockey at this level should be about: playing the game and having fun! While the Kings may not have had the same “stats” as many of their adversaries this year, they more then made up their points in spirit. Despite numerous losses this season, there was never a single negative comment or attitude in the dressing room. Moreover, each and every player benefited from the same amount of ice time. The combination of equal opportunities and a positive outlook has unequivocally led to the noticeable improvement of every single player on the team. As I mother, I applaud the coaching staff for their commitment, their ethics and their obvious respect for each of their players, as the choices they made were for the good of the kids. And bravo to the boys with heart: Benji, Sheldon, Cedric, Niko, Brett, Jonah, Quinn, Matthew, Samuel, Nikolas, Gabriel, Zach, Thomas and Zach. GO KINGS GO!