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It’s been an exciting season for the Woodstock Jr. Navy Vets Minor Bantam ‘AA’ squad – both on and off the ice. And the team has enjoyed many successes along the way, including a pair of tournament wins – most notably at the Woodstock Silverstick tournament in November, which qualified them for the International Silverstick finals in January.
The goal is to win that prestigious tournament, and also to defend the team’s Alliance AA league title, and head coach Alfie Breton thinks his players have the talent and drive to do it.
“They have a never-give-up attitude, and each one of these kids will go to battle for any teammate and pick them up when they are down,” said Breton, who has been coaching hockey for 15 years. “Overall, our team chemistry is great. Everyone seems to get along, and they know that it takes a team to win, and not individuals.”
That team has done a lot of winning during the 2017-18 season, including at the AA Cup North American Championships in Buffalo, which has been a highlight for the team thus far. The Navy Vets went a perfect 6-0 in the tournament, scoring 23 goals while allowing just three against and recording four consecutive shutouts. One of the perks was playing in an outdoor game.
“The boys enjoyed playing outside [at the East Aurora outdoor rink],” said Breton. “The location was downtown in a small suburb of Buffalo, and the players’ changeroom was like an ice hut with one heater bolted at the back of the room. It was cold, but the wind died down by the time we played. And the boys got to play on some history, which was also a neat experience.”
That history was the fact that the ice-making equipment used to build the outdoor rink the boys played on was the same equipment that had been used for the first-ever Winter Classic game (which was played in Buffalo).
Breton is excited for what lies ahead for the 17 players (b. 2004) that make up this Minor Bantam squad. But at the same time, he’s happy with what they’ve achieved so far.
“As a coaching staff, we’re very proud of what these boys have accomplished this year and last on and off the ice,” the coach said.
Contributions by Alfie Breton and photo by Carol Ward