The ice is in at NEMI Rec Centre, which means it is time for Island hockey to resume. With Ontario Hockey Federation-mandated COVID bubbles (player maximums) in place throughout the province, our local rep teams are now figuratively as well as literally on an island. On October 20, the U15, U13 and U11 Manitoulin Panthers took to home ice after two weeks of sessions at RHP in Sudbury. Twice weekly practices will prepare players for intra-squad three-on-three games every other Sunday, the replacement for league play in this most unusual of seasons. The U13 and U11 teams have been combined to make two teams that will play each other, while the U15 team has the numbers to allow divisional play.
The three-on-three format should make it a bit easier for coaches in their eternally desperate plea for players to pass the puck. NEMI is a big rink, and that’s a lot of ice to try and cover in solo ‘hero’ rushes. Skating and passing take on a heightened importance in three-on-three, and the COVID-mandated restrictions provide an excellent opportunity for players to improve their skills, improvements that should pay dividends when the kids move to whatever our post pandemic normal may be.
With no Panther U18 team being iced, and high school hockey on hold, older Island athletes have had to look elsewhere for opportunity. Delaney Bridgeman finds herself back with former teammates in Sudbury, playing with the Lady Wolves U18 side who have an intra-squad format similar to the Panther plan.
On the boys’ side, local hockey graduate Sam Assinewai is skating with the Rayside-Balfour Canadians, while Billy Biederman, Liam Bridgeman, Damien Debassige and Carson Shawana have been skating with the Sudbury Wolves U18 Elite squad. Tryouts for the U18 Nickel Caps are on November 15. The plan for the Caps is to make two ‘10 players plus a goalie’ teams who will play a no body-checking, five-on-five, hour-long game in a bubble against a similarly outfitted group from the Soo. Vapers beware.
We all know that the pandemic, with PPE protocols and necessary lifestyle restrictions, have greatly impacted every aspect of our lives. Though always deserving of thanks for what they do for our youth, those who have stepped up to give local athletes this semblance of normal, executives who make it happen and team staff shouldering yet another load of stress, deserve a huge thank you from players, families and fans alike.
Sudbury Rocks miss!
Wiikwemkoong’s Aurel Fox-Recollet finished in second place overall in the Sudbury Rocks 5K race held on October 25! He time was 37 minutes and 53 seconds in the 10K race! The race was virtual and all start and end times were inputted in Fitbit. Congratulations, Aurel!
Sudbury District Cross Country Championships
In the novice girls’ 4.3km race, Manitoulin was very well represented with Maren Kasunich winning the race outright in a time of 17:10! In third place, who has also been training with Gerry Holliday, was Mackenzie Green. Not far behind was fellow trainee Annie Balfe in 11th and their fourth-place counter was Morgan Green in 14th and their fifth place finisher was Brooke Gibeault. Congratulations to the girls’ novice team who easily finished first overall.
In the novice boys’ race, MSS runner, who hails from the Bidwell, Brodie Pennie was sixth overall. Teammate Andrew Rose was second for the Mustangs in 14th spot. T.J. Green was close behind in 17th spot. Unfortunately, the Black and Gold did not have a fourth runner to complete a full team that would recognize a potentially strong, whole-team effort.
Similarly, Katie Chapman was the lone junior girl runner for MSS and her solid, solo run was lost in the team results. Thankfully the junior boys were able to put together a solid team finish in a competitive division in fourth. Congratulations to: Alan Wilkin (5th), Keaton Gauthier, Jack Pennie, Ben Willis and Rhys Allison.
Without a senior girl runner, it was good to see that Julian Wemigwans still in the mix in the senior boys’ race, finishing in 21st place out of 39 finishers.
A good sport is good for sports