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Monday, April 22, 2024
March Break Classic: NOTL volunteers score big at annual hockey tournament
Niagara-on-the-Lake forward Austin Cwiertniewski scored on this beauty top-shelf shot during U9 action Saturday at the March Break Classic Tournament at the Meridian Credit Union Arena. Cwiertniewski and his teammates won the game 4-1. Richard Wright
Niagara-on-the-Lake U9 goalie Nathan Muir had a great game against Beverly Township in a 4-1 win Saturday afternoon. Richard Wright
Niagara-on-the-Lake Minor Hockey Association president Pete Flynn serves up a hot dog Saturday outside the Meridian Credit Union Arena. Not unfamiliar with filling multiple roles in order to make sure things happen, Flynn is one of dozens of volunteers who help make minor hockey a reality for youngsters in the community. Richard Wright
Volunteers are an absolute necessity for any youth organization. The Niagara-on-the-Lake Minor Hockey Association is lucky to have many people willing to help out, including, seated Tania VanGent and Kailey Burns, with Carrie Plaskett, referee Dave Holt and Adrianna Miele behind. Richard Wright

Tourney continues through Monday at Meridian Credit Union Arena


Richard Wright
Niagara Now/The Lake Report

It is said it takes a community to raise a child, but then who raises the community?

Minor hockey organizations can take some credit and the Niagara-on-the-Lake Minor Hockey Association is filling the net in both areas.

A total of 41 teams in six divisions have descended on the Meridian Credit Union Arena this weekend for the annual March Break Classic, a staple youth sporting event in Niagara-on-the-Lake for over 40 years. 

And while player success and the healthy development of young humans is the focus, one can’t deny what Canada’s game also does for a community, and for the people who take nothing in return to make it happen.

“The reason I started volunteering and giving my time back is for all the parents who drove me to games when I was a kid,” says NOTL minor hockey president Pete Flynn, who might as well pull up a cot next to the Zamboni with all the time he will spend at the rink this weekend. 

A former player and a father of three athletic youngsters, Flynn knows the value of minor sports.

Not only is he the association president, but he is also heavily involved in youth slo-pitch and started the high school hockey program at A.N. Myer in Niagara Falls.

“The kids are out, they get to play sports, they get to come together as a community to become friends and unite as a team,” he adds.

Healthy, confident, well-rounded youth. This is a recipe for success for anyone interested in building communities. 

Mitchell Olsen is a 15-year-old player with NOTL Wolves U18 B Team, a rep squad that is a step higher than the local league teams playing in town this weekend.

Over the next few days, he’s trading his skates and stick for a seat in the timekeeper’s box.

“It’s good to help the community,” he says, adding that it also helps with his own development since volunteer hours are added to his high school transcript.

“But since I have already finished (the 40-hour high school requirement). Now I am just doing this to help out. To me, hockey isn’t so much a team, it’s a family.”

In total, 14 community members make up the NOTL Minor Hockey Association’s board.

Many of those people give up hundreds of hours a year to help administer the organization and to volunteer for special events such as this weekend’s tournament, which boasts over 70 games over four days.

The association’s volunteer co-ordinator, Carrie Plaskett says board members, players and parents are selfless in their desire to help.

“We have a good community here. There are a lot of people who volunteer. Often the people I see out there are the people who are out there at every tournament.”

Tournament continues
Sunday and Monday

The March Break Classic will feature its semifinal and final rounds Sunday in the U-18, U-9, and U-9 MD divisions. The finals of the U11, U13 and U15 divisions will be played Monday.


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