No one within the Nickel City Hockey Association (NCHA) is about to claim that they have achieved anything remotely close to perfection in developing a successful minor hockey system.
But with eight Silver Stick titles garnered of the 17 that were up for grabs in Sudbury this weekend, one can understand if they might lay claim to being on the right track.
In fact, NCHA teams picked up eight of the 11 trophies that remained in the north, with teams from Oakville, Mississauga, Barrie and Aurora also heading south with some additional hardware.
The remaining NOHA teams to walk away with bragging rights included the Blind River Hounds (Major Bantam A) and West Ferris Trappers (in both Minor Atom AA and Major Atom AA).
The 44th edition of the Silver Stick Hockey Tournament wrapped up on four fronts Dec. 9, with plenty of excitement along the way.
After stumbling their way to a record of 0-2-1 in round-robin play, the Nickel City Midget A Flyers more than made up for their poor start in the playoff round.
The Flyers knocked off the top-seeded Bracebridge Bears 4-1 in the semifinals, as Brendyn Sauvé paced the offence with a two-goal effort.
Facing the Cumberland Grads in the final, the locals bolted to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from Nick Marion, holding on to double their Ottawa opponent 4-2.
“We started to gel as the weekend went on, really working together as a team,” noted head coach John Sauvé. “I think it really just came down to hard work and who wanted it more.”
Sauvé will make his fourth visit to the international Silver Stick, having returned with championships on three previous occasions. He acknowledged on Dec. 9 that there does seem to be a difference in the perception of his players when competing in the Silver Stick versus other tournaments that they visit.
“I think they do get pumped up because there is more of a prize at the end than just the trophy,” Sauvé said. “You get to go to another tournament, you get to represent the north. It's a little bit bigger than most.”
With Brendyn Sauvé and Michael Lemieux rounding out the scoring in the finals, the Flyers captured their divisional banner, the first tournament win of any kind for at least a pair of players on the team.
“It's really something special," Sauvé said. “Even the guys recognized that this is something extra special for those two players.”