Early minor hockey season shaping up

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Dwain Hill may not be the first minor hockey coach to draw up break-out patterns for his assistant coaches at 10 on a Saturday morning at McDonalds – but let’s just say he is! That’s where he was on Sept. 19, strategizing with his U12 coaching colleagues for the upcoming season.

It should be noted that Hill hasn’t yet been chosen as the Tier I U12 (formerly known as Pee Wee) coach this year.

“I’ve applied,” he says.

Chances are good. Hill has coached the top Pee Wee team the past two years, winning provincials the year before last, and gunning for another berth this past year when COVID hit.

“I think we might have won it again,” he says.

However that might have turned out, this is a new season. A strange one, at this point, with all the COVID-induced restrictions. Perhaps the strangest thing of all is no league play for the first month or two of the season.

“It’ll be house league,” Hill says, “until sometime in November.”

So in the case of the U12s, he figures there are enough kids signed up for three teams. He expects they’ll be assigned so as to create balanced squads for the house league play. Once the league decides (if it does) that a resumption of inter-community play is safe, the squads would be rearranged in the usual fashion.

Hill saw the U12s skate for the first time on Sept. 21, and he was impressed. He expected it to be at about half-speed, but the kids were having none of that.

“They just wanted to go!” he says. “They were like a bunch of dogs!”

The plan as of last week was for two weeks of initial skates, followed by two weeks of evaluation camps. After that, the players will be split into teams in each division and in-house play will commence.

All of Hill’s comments about which players might end up on the ‘A’ team ended up off the record. But he likes what he sees.

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