‘Team-first’ approach earns Jr. Flags tournament berth

The Mooretown Jr. Flags “U13 Rep” team are, from left, back row: Coaches Mike McLaughlin, Adam Teschke, Shawn Lajoie, Ben Hazzard (manager), Aaron Ticknor and Ian Snedden; Middle row (standing): Chase Ticknor, Ewan Snedden, Ryan Teschke, Drew Mullen, Graeme Hazzard; Front row (kneeling, from left): Tucker Ysebaert, Kale Melville, Cole Grant, Liam Lahey (goalie), Cohen Melville, Oden Lajoie, Josh Carpenter, and Klarke McLaughlin. Submitted photo.

Tara Jeffrey

Ian Snedden’s Mooretown Jr. Flags were about to play the Kincardine Kinucks for the 2019-20 OMHA Championship when COVID-19 abruptly ended the team’s winning season.

“We never did play a game,” Coach Snedden said the squad, which also won an International Silver Stick title that January.

When the kids hit the ice again after months of lockdown, they hadn’t missed a beat.

“They must not have sat around too much,” he said with a laugh. “They certainly came back pretty good.

“Some of them actually came back quite a bit better than when they left.”

Except for a few players who moved into the Sarnia hockey system, most of the core group continued with the 2021-22 team, now playing U13 Tier 1.

“Some have been asked to jump into different positions that weren’t normal for them, to make up for the kids that left. So they’ve really stepped up and done a great job.”

With two regular season tournament titles under their belts already, the boys secured a spot in the 2022 North American Silver Stick Finals by winning the Regional Silver Stick title in Watford this month.

At press time, with sports cancellations beginning again, the tournament was still slated for Jan. 21-23 in Forest.

“They’re definitely excited. They’re a really talented group. They’ve been in a few pressure cooker games already so they know what to expect,” he said, pointing to the team dynamic — which seems to be driving its success.

“They’re supportive of one another, they accept different roles, and they realize that they’re better with the sum of their parts, rather than any one player.”

Like so many kids, they’re just happy to be back at the arena, and they’re just trying to make the most of it in these uncertain times, Snedden said.

“With the way things are going in the world, it’s just nice for them to get out, and socialize, and carry on like good buddies again.

“They’re a very close knit group, so it’s just nice to watch them do that.”