Sidney Crosby may have spent the last few months tearing up the NHL scoring charts, but one of his biggest fans right here in Elmira has been playing at a clip sure to impress even a superstar. Eight-year-old Nathan Taylor scored four goals during his teams 5-1 win over Ayr Jan. 5 to give him an incredible 53 goals on the season in just 15 games with the Woolwich Minor Hockey Novice Local League #2.
“He played Timbits hockey and did ‘learn to skate’, so he’s probably been on the ice since he was 3,” said Taylor’s mother, Rachel Winslade.
“As soon as he was old enough to stand his father had him in the net and was shooting soft balls at him,” she laughed.
Nathan didn’t stay in net for long, though, and says that his favourite position is centre. Nathan’s father, Ryan Taylor, passed away in August of 2007, but Rachel says that he would have been his biggest fan.
“But I guess he still can be,” she added.
Now one of Nathan’s biggest fans is his grandfather, Doug Winslade, who attends as many games as he can and keeps track of Nathan’s goals.
And even though Nathan has had a terrific start, his coach Jeff Weber is quick to point out the great success the team has had this season.
“He’s had a great year, but the team has also had a great year,” said Weber, whose team has a 9-2-2 regular-season record and is in the top three of the league’s standings.
“The biggest accomplishment for the team isn’t where we are in the standings though, but the way in which we play as a team from the start of the year to the end of the year. It’s amazing how much everybody has improved on the team.”
Weber, who is in his first year coaching minor hockey, says he places a big emphasis on team play and building the basic skills of hockey in all of his players. The coach makes sure that everyone, except for the goalies, plays every position on the ice to get a better idea of their different responsibilities and to develop a more well-rounded game.
Last Saturday was Nathan’s first game since scoring his 50th, and Weber had him playing defence. As a testament to the team’s development, Woolwich won 3-2 against Tavistock without Nathan scoring a goal for the first time all season. Matthew Thaler had a pair for the Wildcats, and Andrew Weber also scored.
“That’s a tribute to how far the team has come, they were still able to win without him scoring,” said Weber. “And for Nathan it is a chance for him to learn the defensive aspects of the game and to become a well-rounded player, not just a great goal-scorer.”
Nathan wants to try out for the AE or A level teams when he plays in Atom next season, and he hopes that his goal-scoring prowess this season will help convince the coaches he deserves a shot on the roster. But as Weber teaches in practice, it is crucial to recognize the importance of teamwork and become a complete player, not just an amazing goal-scorer.
Sidney Crosby could certainly say the same thing.