Thorold Minor Hockey ended the competition this season and fought their way to a triple win as the U13 BB, U13 LL1 and U18 BB teams all became Niagara District Champions.
“It was just a really, really good all-round season,” minor hockey association president Mike DeGasperis said in an interview with ThoroldToday. “A lot of good development has taken place. I think for some reason the kids just gelled and they gelled at the right time.
DeGasperis points out that the wins were a team effort.
“It’s everything, from the involvement of the kids and their families to the coaching staff, that makes a huge difference,” DeGasperis says. “Honestly, I’ve seen it in the past. For a lot of these Thorold teams, they’re either really strong all year or for some reason they seem to gel after Christmas and the sky’s the limit before the playoffs, which isn’t a bad thing. . They kind of turn it on at the right time.
For the U18 BB and U21 teams, another exciting competition awaits as they have both qualified for the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) playoffs.
“OMHA is the route teams want to take because it’s kind of like going to the Stanley Cup,” DeGasperis said. “It’s the big competition, it’s where the kids want to go and where the coaches strive to achieve.”
COVID-19 still loomed large during this year’s hockey season as hockey practice was suspended for a few weeks in January, but DeGasperis hopes better days are ahead.
“Ideally, it would be amazing if we could say COVID was behind us,” he says. “In terms of programming, heading into next season, we’re 150% programming. I think everyone in our association is looking forward to a COVID-free season so to speak, and we can just have a good time and return to our regular programming.
It was also the last season teams could play at the James Whyte Arena, as the city decided to decommission the ice.
“Myself as a child, I grew up in this area,” says DeGasperis. “It’s a great little arena, although it’s older and needs some work. It’s sad. But things are looking good with the Canada Games rink. It’s a shame that we can’t have this kind of double rink in Thorold yet, but I understand that things get to a point where you have to move on and make changes, and that’s good too.
As for what makes Thorold Minor Hockey such an important pillar of the Thorold community, DeGasperis has a clear answer.
“I can go back to when I was a kid,” he says. “There was so much passion for the game. The one thing I’ve noticed in the 21 years I’ve been involved in hockey is that the commitment seems to be a lot more intense these days. . Congratulations to all the families and children who have put in the time and effort to make it what it is. All of our volunteers, our coaching staff, our parent volunteers—all of those people really help with the programming and keep it running. They are the reason it is so successful.