The kids were on cloud nine,î chuckles Assistant Coach Keith Barath. "I don't know if they actually understood that they are the Provincial Champs!"
The Kipling Team scored an 8-5 victory over the Lashburn Flyers last Sunday, securing the Championship. Keith notes that while the road to this success had its rougher moments...the win comes as no surprise to any of the coaches.
"Gord White was the Head Coach for the team. Troy Johanson and I were the Assistant Coaches. We've all been working with these kids since they were little. So, we knew that we had a lot of talent there. We knew what these kids were capable of. There were some 'growing pains'."
"In the past, we've had split teams. This is the first year that everyone was playing on one team. Back in January, there were some things that we had to work through so that everyone on the team could 'gel' properly. But, the kids came together very well."
He observes that some of the teams that the Kipling Pee Wee Team faced proved to be difficult opponents.
"The series against Carnduff, for example, was very hard-fought. When we ended up on the winning side of that...it gave the kids a lot of confidence. They came away from Carnduff thinking that anything was possible. It was really interesting to watch that happen. They kept on giving it all that they had every time they went out on the ice. I know that our team shocked some of the other teams and communities!"
He adds that the win this year will have a serious impact on two teams next year.
"There are half a dozen kids that will be moving up next year. They are going to take a lot of confidence with them as they move up. They understand that they can achieve their goals, if they work hard as a team...not just as individuals."
"At the same time, the kids that will remain on the Pee Wee Team next year will help to guide the younger kids. There are definitely some leaders there. They will help the younger ones get ready for the ride!"
On their way to the Provincial Championship, Keith says that the team received tremendous support.
"There were about 350 ñ 400 people at the game last Sunday. And throughout the season, we had parents and grandparents putting on a lot of miles...doing their part for these kids. Our manager Amanda Reid was just amazing! She spent countless hours on the phone for us."
"We also had two Senior Oil Kings...Trustyn McKay and Aaron Roth...come out to work with Zachary Barath...our goalie. None of the coaches ever played goal. So, it meant a lot to have these young men come out to help Zach out that way."
While they now have the Provincial Championship under their belt...the Pee Wee Team still has one more title to vie for. On Tuesday, the team will travel to Redvers to play the deciding game in a three-game series. The winner of that team will be the new Moose Mountain Minor Hockey League Champions.
Keith says that a win in Redvers might be a nice way to 'cap off'' the season.
"If they win in Redvers...the kids will have TWO titles. Wouldn't that be nice?"