As you march in the Sens Army and root for the 67’s and the Raiders, wave a mini stick for the local kids just drafted into the OHL
Sure as the birds are singing and buds are popping out on trees, hockey fever is spreading in Ottawa. The Sens Army is on the march for the playoffs season and fans of the Ottawa 67’s and the Nepean Raiders are loud and proud, cheering for their favourite teams as they face off against their respective playoff rivals.
Just when the thousands of area hockey families think it’s time to fumigate those stinky bags and get out the soccer balls, baseball gloves or lacrosse sticks, whoosh! The fever hits. And there we are, in front of our TV sets and back at the rinks cheering on our local hockey heroes.
Yesterday Mayor Jim Watson, wearing a Sens jersey, drove a Zamboni down Elgin Street to open the Sens Mile. (There was also an official proclamation: “Wear Your Red on Game Days.”)
Already there are flags on local buildings and in no time they will be waving briskly from cars across the region. Take a good look today or tomorrow and you’re apt to see the bank teller and the person at the cash register wearing their jerseys too.
Yes, we love our Sens – and our 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League, along with our Nepean Raiders and fellow Junior A teams of the Central Canada Hockey League. But let’s not forget all the other teams and players, officials, volunteers and parents who live for the game here in hockey country. Motor down any random suburban street and you’ll see puck marks on garage doors and road hockey games spilling from driveways out onto the street.
Here in Ottawa, the puck doesn’t stop when the ice melts. While youngsters (of all ages) head to the ODR (outdoor rinks) for as long as they last, parking lots work just fine, thanks, as soon as spring rolls around. Families with kids in the competitive stream know hockey season never really ends. Encompassing 12 months, it’s scheduled at this time of year with spring tryouts and spring teams, followed by summer hockey camps and skills sessions, then onto late-summer tryouts and the regular season.
For two dozen of those competitive players and their families, years and years of commitment paid off this past weekend with real hockey victory.
Last Saturday, 24 Minor Midget AAA players from the Ottawa District Hockey Association were drafted into the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). That’s the top tier junior hockey league that has produced such stars as Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman and Jason Spezza. In the lingo of hockey, these local kids made it to the “next level.”
Not sure of the significance of this? If you’ve been spending time at the dance studios or at the local ski hills, the draft is a hockey graduation of sorts – with highest honours. It’s the ultimate end-goal of years of six a.m. practices in January, gallons of Gatorade and coffee, mini sticks in halls at out-of-town tournaments and high and low drama at out-of-the-way rinks, accompanied, always, by thrills and chills.
Certainly, the thrill of success at the 2012 draft was shared by whole families. After all, young hockey lovers start dreaming of playing in the big leagues before they can even stand up on skates. Most learn, soon enough, that it’s not to be. But these elite players are now a big stride closer to living their hockey dreams.
They represent five local AAA hockey teams: Upper Canada Cyclones, Eastern Ontario Wild, Ottawa Valley Titans, Ottawa Jr. 67’s and Ottawa Senators. As expected, the Cyclones’ Eric Cornel was selected third overall in the 15-round draft of 303 players from across the province and parts of the United States. Teammates Brandon Prophet and Owen Gill were also named in the day-long draft. Eastern Ontario Wild’s Andrew Ming, Maxime St. Pierre, Nicholas Legault and Tristen Elie saw their names chosen, as did Cameron Hughes and Doug Johnston of the Ottawa Senators. From the Ottawa Valley Titans, Owen McDade, Nicholas Hodgins, Kelly Summers, Kevin Groulx, Connor Cobbold, Dallas Farr and Colton Keuhl were drafted. And a whopping eight players were tagged from the Ottawa 67’s AAA team: Alexandre Renaud, Brent Moran, Joel Howard, Andrew Abou-Assaly, Hunter Racine, Patrick White, Medric Mercier and Nicholas Ngwafusi.
Representing top Ottawa hockey in the Minor Midget age group, these players chosen in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection have a hockey bag full of reasons to be proud. So do their families and associations. Hard work, unwavering dedication, high expectations and the best of hockey spirit helped make success happen for these kids. That’s reason to cheer – and to keep cheering for hockey in Ottawa!
Are you feeling the hockey fever? Let’s talk.
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