NOTL Wolves U18 squad makes it to semifinal in their division
Minor hockey teams from all over southern Ontario converged on Niagara-on-the-Lake last weekend for the annual Harvest Classic.
With 38 teams in total competing – including four from NOTL – the arena complex in Virgil was hopping from Friday morning through Sunday evening's final games.
NOTL Minor Hockey tournament convener Gino Patterson said everything ran smooth as silk throughout the weekend – though the proceedings were interrupted for about 15 minutes Sunday afternoon when the fire alarm went off.
Coaches and parents from out of town agreed with Patterson's assessment and said they were pleased with their weekend at the rinks in NOTL.
In a sign of how even small-town competitions have progressed, Patterson said this was the second year the tournament has gone "all digital," with schedules, scores, standings and player stats all available online via the hockey association's website.
It's not completely paperless, yet. But it's really close.
As for Patterson, he spent the vast majority of the weekend – about 45 hours in all – ensconced in an office in the Centennial Arena, keeping an eye on several digital tablets and dealing with any hiccups that arose.
It's his 11th year as tournament convener, and he works closely with a large team of parent and youth volunteers. Patterson's son's minor hockey days are over but dad has stayed on overseeing tourneys and as the association's webmaster.
"It's important to give back," he said in an interview. And with the youth volunteers, it helps show them how they can give back to the community when they're older.
As for seeing the round-robin games, "not too many," the convener said. Though he does try to take in most of the semis and finals.
"I tell people I see bits and pieces whenever I can," he said. Such is the life of the team of community volunteers who organize minor sports events.
Meanwhile, on the ice, the competition was tough and all the NOTL Wolves teams acquitted themselves well.
The Wolves' U18 (formerly midget) BB team played its way to a berth in the semifinal on Sunday afternoon.
The home squad faced a strong opponent in the eventual tournament champions, the Ingersoll Express.
In the semifinal, an impressive Ingersoll team came at NOTL in waves, pressuring the host squad relentlessly.
But some steady team defence and key saves by goaltender Tyler Lawrence-Howard kept the Wolves in it till late in the third period.
NOTL came out on the short end of a 4-0 score.
In the U18 final on Sunday night, Ingersoll triumphed 5-1 over the Lambeth Lancers.