After a rocky start to the season that saw them placed in the “B” pool, the Twin Centre Novice Hericanes came back to win the championship last week.
“The beginning did not go well; we lost a lot,” said parent Jeanette Pretorius.
Novice is usually a learning age, but this team faced a steep uphill climb: three of the 12 girls could barely skate.
Coach Mark Dakin was forced to discard his game plan after the first practice.
“At the beginning he had this whole game plan, he had these drills he was going to do the first day, and he got there and some of them couldn’t even skate,” Pretorius said. “His wife said he came home and he paced the kitchen – ‘What are we going to do?’”
But the girls buckled down to learning the skills they needed, and Dakin turned the learning into a game, letting them play tag on ice to develop their skating. One of the players who had a few years of hockey under her belt would direct the new players to the proper positions. And the three girls who were so wobbly on their skates steadied to the point that each scored goals during the season.
After being sorted into the B pool, the Novices proceeded to go undefeated through their last 12 regular season games, winning 10 and tying two.
They narrowly missed forfeiting their semi-final game after one of the referees didn’t show up; semi-final games aren’t rescheduled, so forfeiting would have put them out of the championship, but the coach’s wife got on the phone and managed to round up a second referee.
The championship came down to a 7 a.m. game in Waterloo. The girls shut out the opposition 3-0 to take the trophy.
“To come that far in a season – what a way to start hockey.”