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‘It was pretty special’: Former Jr. Sting teammates reunited on OHL ice

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Tara Jeffrey

Brad Riley was in for a treat at last Sunday’s Sarnia Sting game.

The longtime local hockey coach was in the stands at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena to witness history when five of his former players — all from the same 2019-2020 Lambton Jr. Sting AAA team — took the ice in the same OHL game.

“It was amazing,” said Riley, who was head coach of the team that included current Sting players Austin Harper, Owen MacDonald and Joshua Hoover, along with Caleb Van de Ven and Landen Hookey of the Soo Greyhounds.

“I was so proud to see all of them out there; my wife and I were just beside ourselves.

“It was pretty special.”

Riley actually coached four of the players — Sarnia’s Hookey and Hoover, Plympton-Wyoming’s Harper, and MacDonald from Corunna — from their Minor Bantam year in 2017-2018, right through to their draft year in 2020, when Van de Ven came on board from Delaware.

Austin Harper, Owen MacDonald, Joshua Hoover and Landen Hookey, from their 2017-2018 Lambton Jr. Sting AAA team together.

“You just knew they were special players,” he recalled. “Just their skill — everything… I’ve been coaching for a lot of years, and you just know.”

Riley, who began coaching back in 1995, says he just loves the game, and giving back to his community.

“You get to meet great people, and work with amazing young athletes,” said Riley, who currently coaches the 2022-2023 Lambton Jr. Sting AAA U16 team.

“I feel the same way with this team now — it’s such a talented group of kids.”

The 2019-2020 Lambton Junior Sting AAA team:
Top Row (L-R): Brad McAlpine, Owen MacDonald, Landen Hookey, Caleb Van De Ven, Landon Marcy.
Middle Row (L-R): Head Coach Brad Riley, Goalie Coach Mark Phillips, Assistant Coach Paul Hurtubise, Markus Hicks, Ty Moffatt, Dylan Dupuis, Dylan Dundas, Josh Hoover, Dylan Watson, Trainer Bastien Dufour, Assistant Coach John Maniuk, Assistant Goalie Coach Scotty Gray
Front Row (L-R): Ethan Eveaert, Jason Bacchus, Austin Harper, Liam Kidder, Brayden Joseph, Elijah Grant. (Metcalfe Photography)

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