The on-ice success of the Lambton Jr. Sting major midget hockey team has earned its coaching staff a significanthonour.
Head coach Jonathan Taylor and members of his staff will be behind the bench for the Alliance AAA midget all-star game in Waterloo on Dec. 4.
The Jr. Sting finished the first half of the Alliance schedule with a record of 11-2-1-1, and are battling it out with the Windsor Jr. Spitfires for first overall in the league standings.
Coaches from the league’s top two teams lead the all-star teams.
This is the first time Taylor, with 20 years of coaching experience – including six years at the helm of the Jr. Sting major midget AAA team – has been selected to coach an Alliance all-star team.
Coaching staff members Kevin Devine and Rick Brown and trainer Dom Flamminio will join him.
“The midget all-star game is part of a whole weekend of events,” that include a minor midget all-star mini-tournament, involving four different teams, as well as a bantam all-star game, explains Taylor.
The weekend is largely a showcase for minor midget players eligible for the 2017 junior draft. But Sunday’s all-star game is also a huge opportunity for some of the overlooked major midget players, most of whom are undrafted.
“This is their chance,” says Taylor. “(Junior teams) can still draft players up to 18 years old.”
The top 40 players from the Alliance’s eight-team midget league will play in the game. The rosters have not yet been decided, but Taylor says he expects four or five Lambton players will participate.
Taylor says the secret to the Jr. Sting’s success this year has been hard work.
“I’ve probably coached teams with more talent … but this is a really hard-working group of players,” says Taylor, adding the league is very balanced and every game seems close.
Taylor adds the team has really excelled at grinding out “a lot of one-goal wins.”
Last week, the Sting were ranked 17th of 64 teams in Ontario and it’s been in the top-30 rated teams in Canada.
Taylor adds the Sting’s success is noteworthy because the team features an assortment of players, many of whom didn’t necessarily play as teammates in previous seasons.
In addition to Sarnia-Lambton, the Jr. Sting have players have from Strathroy, Mount Brydges and London, along with several players from Michigan.