Best Four Years of Their Lives, News, PEEWEE MAJOR AAA JR GREYHOUNDS (Sault Major Hockey)

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Best Four Years of Their Lives
Submitted By Darren Nadon on Friday, March 13, 2020
With everything that is happening in the world today, it is important to find the time and reflect on the past and prepare for the future. Hockey Canada recently made an unprecedented ruling to cancel all minor hockey in Canada including the NOHLAAA playoffs (NOHA Championship) and OHF Championship, concluding our final season with Coach Chris Huckson leading the program.  

It has already been 4 years that a team of 17 young boys first came together to wear the red and white of the Soo Jr Greyhounds and embarked in a journey full of life lessons and lasting memories. In total, 25 young boys all of a 2007 birth year, formed part of this successful program over 4 years. When we look back and see what this group as accomplished, there is so much to be proud of.

Atom Minor AA was the first year, 17 individual players came to the program with raw speed, skill and a "me" mentality. From day 1, the coaching staff’s primary focus for the team was to prepare and develop the boys for Bantam, it was never about wins or losses. Their belief in skill development and team first systems would be the key to the future success of the team. The boys tried to buy into this belief right away but it was hard to adjust from what they were use to playing in Novice and being the best players on their previous teams. The Jr Hounds would turn heads in Kitchener and London with their speed and finally accomplished their first Championship by winning the Regional Silverstick Tournament in Sudbury. It was a time to celebrate again in Thessalon when the team won their last game of the season, celebrating with champaign and noise makers as they punched their ticket, with that win, to the NIHL playoffs playing against 2006 birth years.

Year two, in Atom Major AA, was a year of learning, with some ups and downs throughout the year. The team was now playing in the NDMHL out of Sudbury. During the Regular Season, the coaching staff paid little attention to wins, loses or standings because as a group, those things are not important to the team. What the coaches stressed was the opportunity to execute their skills and ability that they have practiced and developed throughout the year and to have the chance to learn through each and every game. Without the stresses of wins or loses, the Soo Jr Greyhounds focused on an overall team game and stressed the importance not having an individual score goals but to score goals as a team. In December, a disappointing overtime loss at the Regional Silverstick Tournament taught the boys about perseverance. They were knock out of the tournament but to only be invited to the Silversticks AAA International Championship before the coaches even made it home that day. This opportunity proved to the boys that they were ready for the next step and we ready to make the leap into AAA. They battled hard in this tournament but lost in the semi finals, but not before they put on a show! By playing in this tournament, the boys realized the importance of playing as a team and everything started to change from here. They all bought in 100% into the no "I" in team philosophy. This was a learning curve for most of the players but each game, they got better and better and in the final game of the regular season, the 2007 Soo Jr Greyhounds played a near perfect team game with a 8-0 win over their rivals, the 2006 Pee Wee Minor AA Jr Hounds. The Soo Jr Greyhounds finished the Regular Season with a 19-0-1 record. They netted 118 goals while only succumbing to 29 goals against, The Soo Jr Greyhounds were the Nickle District Minor Hockey League, Pee Wee Division III, Regular Season and Playoff Champions. Unfortunately, a dominating performance at the NOHA Championship would shatter in the semi finals when they would loose again in the semi finals from a bad bounce and ending their chance of making the OHF Championship.

Last year, the team played as the Peewee Minor AAA Soo Jr Greyhounds. This group of hard working, speedy players had one goal in mind that year, to be crowned the NOHA Champions. After going undefeated in the regular season and playoffs in 2017-2018 and continued winning right until their first loss which was in the NOHA Semi Final game the previous year, the team was determined for that not to happen again this year. Now playing out of the NOHLAAA, the boys would have another dynamite season finishing with a 22-1-5 record being crowned the Regular Season Champs and were successful of attaining their goal of being crowned NOHA Champions.

This year, was the final year of the program, playing as the Peewee Major AAA Soo Jr Greyhounds. The team had the goal of reaching the OHF Championship and played every game to their best of their ability to make that happen. The team ended the regular season of the NOHLAAA with a 20-1-3 record and were the Regular Season Champions. With having a great season, the team was given the opportunity to play in the Ontario Winter Games held in Orillia, Ontario. This was a once in a lifetime experience that the team would share together and the Soo Jr Greyhounds would prove that they are one of the elite teams in the country and can play and compete with the best of the best. They made it to the bronze medal game only to loose to the #1 ranked team in the country at that time. After all the hard work, dedication, sweat and tears this team has endeavored over the last 4 years, the team saved their best hockey, for what would be their last game, for all their friends, family, sponsors and hockey enthusiasts to enjoy. The crowd, excitement, and the noise aided the team to win the semi finals with a 4-0 win. Unfortunately the day after their game 5 win in the NOHA Championship semi finals, the season was ended by Hockey Canada and their goal if being back to back NOHA Champions and a birth to the OHF Championship will not come to fruition. The team can only be so proud of what they have accomplished this year.

The Soo Jr Greyhounds have come so far since their first year. The coaching staff have done an unbelievable job developing these boys and turning them in young men on and off the ice. This game is not always about the wins or losses. The bond and friendships these players have made will last a life time and the memories of playing in historic arenas like Houghton and Calumet, staying together for the first time as a team without parents at the Ontario Winter Games, all the food drives they participated in to help their community and their support they had for Thomas Vine’s recovery will forever be with them.

Thank you to the coaches, players, families, sponsors and fans of the 2007 Soo Jr Greyhounds. Without your support, this program would not have been as successful as it was. Who knows what will happen in the next chapter for these 17 outstanding young men, what we do know is that they had a hell of a ride!

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