By Pat Payton
Special to the Independent
Three teams from St. Marys Minor Hockey Association are competing in the prestigious International Silver Stick tournaments this weekend, Jan. 12-14.
Dan Schiedel and his Golf and Country Club ‘BB’ Atoms are in Sarnia. They are one of 16 teams in the Atom ‘A’ division.
“I think it’s an exciting opportunity for the kids,” coach Schiedel told the Independent. “They’ll get the chance to play other teams from all over North America. We’re very happy to be representing St. Marys and we’re going to put our best foot forward. The kids are pretty fired up about going to Sarnia.
“I don’t think we’ll change our style going into a tournament like this,” he continued. “We have to play all three periods with a gritty nature that we’ve been trying to preach all season. If we play well defensively and get good goaltending, we’ll have a good chance to go far in the tournament.”
The Atom Rock recently earned a berth in the International event after winning six consecutive games at the Pelham Regionals just after Christmas. In six games in the Niagara area, St. Marys out-scored its opponents 26-4.
Other teams in the Atom ‘A’ division in Sarnia are: Capitals Academy Red from Virginia, Innisfil Winterhawks, Mt. Brydges Cougars, Oakville Rangers, Port Huron Flags, Sarnia Jr. Sting, Sault Ste. Marie Selects, Tampa Scorpions, Dorchester Dragons, Kent Cyclones, Napanee Stars, Omaha Jr. Lancers, Rye Rangers from New York, Sault Ste. Marie Lakers and Whitby Wildcats.
Games are being held at five rinks in Sarnia, as well as Point Edward and Petrolia.
In round-robin action, the G&CC Atoms are playing Oakville Rangers (8 a.m.) and Port Huron Flags (12:45 p.m.) on Friday, and Sault Ste. Marie Lakers on Saturday at 11:15 a.m.
Two A-E teams in Niagara
Two other SMMHA teams–Dunny’s Source for Sports Atoms and Frayne Custom Cabinets Bantams–are in the Niagara area competing in the Pelham International A-E Silver Stick tournament, Jan. 11-14.
Sean Porter and his Dunny’s Sports Atoms won their division at the Collingwood Regionals in November. They are one of 16 teams in the Atom-Squirt division in Pelham.
“I know the kids are excited, and so is the coaching staff,” coach Porter said with a laugh. “It’s been a little extra Christmas present.
“The kids have been working hard and playing really well. We’ve been on a bit of tear . . . it’s been about two months since we’ve lost a game. These guys really play as a team and move the puck. From the goaltenders out, they all compete. It’s been a real joy this year coaching these kids. Hopefully we represent St. Marys well down there . . . we’re looking forward to it.”
Other Atom teams in Niagara this week are: California Wave from San Jose, Lambeth Lancers, Western Colonials from Connecticut., Midland Centennials, Barrie Colts, L.A. Jr. Kings, Saugeen Shores Storm, Woodbridge Wolfpack from New Jersey, Ayr Flames, Milton Winterhawks, Long Island Arrows, Grand Rapids, Mich., host Pelham Panthers, Napanee Stars and Evolution Hockey from Colorado.
The Dunny’s Atoms played Grand Rapids and Evolution Hockey on Thursday, and completed round-robin action on Friday morning against Saugeen Shores.
First International experience
Brent Rae and his Frayne Bantams were invited to the International tourney in Niagara after finishing second in Collingwood in November. Rae went twice as a minor hockey player, but it’s his first Int. Silver Stick as a coach.
“I think it’s a first for most of the boys, so it’s kind of cool,” Rae said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen very often. It’s an experience that they’ll all take in. It will be cool to play teams from the States.
“All the teams are there for a reason. They’ve all won some sort of Regional Silver Stick, so you can’t take a game off. You have no idea what (opposing) teams will be like.”
Other Bantam teams in Pelham are: Delaware Ducks from Newark, Orangeville Flyers, Dorchester Dragons, Fort Wayne PSM Force, San Jose Jr. Sharks, Colorado Jr. Eagles, host Pelham Panthers, Mitchell Meteors, Collingwood Blackhawks, Aviator Hockey Club from New York, Guelph Gryphons, Strathroy Jr. Rockets, Mt. Brydges Cougars, Tri Valley Blue Devils from California and New Mexico Ice Wolves.
The Frayne Bantams played Aviator Hockey and Collingwood on Thursday, and San Jose Jr. Sharks on Friday in round-robin action.
Over the four days, games are being held in Pelham, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Port Colborne.