Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
Missing a year of competitive hockey was disappointing, but the Quinte West Golden Hawks U10 team is finding silver linings during the 2021-22 season.
Quinte West is 5-0 to start its Ontario Minor Hockey Association Lakeshore League season and won two tournaments in November, including the Northumberland Regional Silver Stick this weekend in Cobourg.
With a 5-3 win over the Mississippi Thunder Kings from the Ottawa area Sunday afternoon, the Golden Hawks went undefeated in five games to capture the tournament title and qualify for the International Silver Stick Finals in Newmarket from January 6 to 9.
“Coming out of the last year with COVID obviously we didn’t have hockey, so we got to keep a good group of these guys together and work with them all year and teach little things and it’s paying off,” said Quinte West head coach Nick Van Gemeren. “We just concentrated on passing, moving the puck, not working on individual stuff, working as a unit and buying in and so far it’s been great.”
On Friday, Quinte West opened the Northumberland Silver Stick with a 2-0 win over the Ottawa West Golden Knights and continued its winning ways Saturday with victories of 4-2 over the Mississippi Thunder Kings and 5-0 over the Gloucester/Orleans Blues.
In the semifinals Sunday morning, the Golden Hawks earned a 5-2 win over the Castor River Canucks.
“It wasn’t easy,” Van Gemeren said of the tournament win. “We played (the Thunder Kings) game two and they had us on the ropes. We were down 2-0 halfway through the third and we just clawed back. Once we got one things were good, but it wasn’t easy. Good teams here.”
After a scoreless first period in the U10 division final Sunday, Karson Hamilton opened the scoring for the Golden Hawks with his first of two goals in the contest early in the second as Tye McMurter earned an assist on the play.
Benjamin Villeneuve, assisted by Kohen Couperus and Elena Kotsovos, also scored during that middle frame as the Golden Hawks took a 2-0 lead into the third.
Hamilton notched his second of the game just 38 seconds into the third with an assist going to Joshua Korver. The Thunder Kings answered back with their first of three in the final frame with 13:27 still left in regulation time, but Couperus promptly responded for the Golden Hawks just 18 seconds left to restore the three-goal advantage.
Alexander Dolton added a key insurance marker for Quinte West with 10:51 still to play before Mississippi tacked on two more. Levi Mallory and Noah Carre-Stewart earned assists.
Goaltender Preston Martin earned the win in net for the Golden Hawks.
“Everybody bought into the system and did what we asked for…got the pucks deep and worked hard,” Van Gemeren said. “We told them to put pucks to the net and create traffic and things would happen and they did.”
Quinte West also won the Peter Mancuso November Challenge, hosted by the Niagara Falls Flyers, Nov. 6-7 and Van Gemeren said the International Silver Stick will provide another great challenge for his club, which he expects will face ups and downs throughout the season despite the strong start.
One thing for sure, the U10 Golden Hawks are a tight-knit group. Members of the team are goaltenders Bryce Lawrence and Preston Martin as well as Brody Bucholtz, Nikolai Caron, Noah Carre-Stewart, Kohen Couperus, Alexander Dolton, Roy Finch, Karson Hamilton, Joshua Korver, Elena Kotsovos, Nico Leone, Levi Mallory, Tye McMurter, Noah Trice, Griffin Van Gemeren and Benjamin Villeneuve.
“Our community is small so everyone knows everybody,” coach Van Gemeren said. “A lot of them go to school with each other and they’ve been together the last six years playing together.”