Young hockey team still hopeful of salvaging great season

The Lambton Jr. Sting AAA U10 team was ranked seventh in Ontario in December. Pictured are, from left, back row: Brock Manders, Brayer Vanderburgt, Knox Pyne, Owen DeBrum, Jack Chartrand, Michael Brown, Xavier Bianchi, Alton Tedball, Colin Verhoeven and Andrew Munro; Middle Row: Drew Wilson, Laylah Stokes, Blake Morgan, Liam Bryce and Dane Mainland; Front: Bennett Frizzle and Alexander Pfaff. Submitted photo.

Tara Jeffrey

Although minor sports are currently on pause, the Lambton AAA Jr. Sting U-10 hockey team still has its sights on a winning season.

“Obviously the kids are disappointed right now,” said team manager Mike Bryce.

“But the kids on this team are so driven — so I think they’ll all be taking this time to work at home, away from the rink, and come back together stronger.”

After a successful start to the season the team was ranked seventh out of 53 teams in Ontario before the Alliance Hockey League hit pause on external play in December.

Ontario has halted most indoor sports until at least Jan. 27 due to surging COVID-19 cases.

“They’ve been working so hard, and the momentum has been building over time,” Bryce said of the team, made up of players from across Lambton County. At its most recent tournament, the team came up just short in the championship final against the top-ranked Toronto Marlboros.

“It’s just a great group of families, and that leads to a very positive environment,” Bryce said of the team, led by head coach Phillippe Talbot, assistant coaches Adam Pyne, Shea Stokes, goalie coach Josh Debrum and trainer Joe Austin.

Forward and assistant captain Brock Manders not only leads the team in scoring, he leads the league in goals with an eye-catching 72 goals and 26 assists in 32 regular season games.

Lambton is slated to host the year-end championships in April, when the top-ranked teams in Ontario will meet at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.

“Hopefully this pause isn’t for long — they were so excited to be back,” said Bryce. “And it would be great if we could get some fans out to watch.

“It’s something the kids have been building towards,” he added. “It would be great to win the Alliance championship for sure.”