Three teams from the British Columbia Major Midget League (BCMML) battled it out on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 15 and 16) at Brennan Park Arena but the real winner on the weekend may have been Squamish and the Squamish Minor Hockey Association (SMHA).
The Vancouver NorthEast Chiefs, the North Island Silvertips and the Vancouver NorthWest Giants all came to town and raved about the scenery and passion for hockey in Squamish.
“The weekend was a big success from the people who came to watch to the hockey teams themselves, who I think were pleasantly surprised with our town,” said Tim Knight of the SMHA. “When you see kids lined up and giving the players high fives and asking for autographs, you see the genuine interest that there was in these games.”
Saturday saw the weekend of action kick off with a seminar hosted by Chiefs head coach Doneau Menard, who spoke on what it takes to play at the higher levels in hockey.
“I think it went pretty well,” Menard said. “It was a good opportunity for me to provide the kids and parents with a little bit of insight into the BCMML and there was a pretty good showing.”
Knight agreed, saying the seminar received good feedback from both parents and kids.
“It was pretty well attended and he actually branched off from strictly hockey talk,” he said. “He pointed out that we live in the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada here in Squamish and that kids should be doing things like running, biking and hiking, and not just playing hockey.”
After the seminar, the Chiefs took on the Silvertips and the game ended in a 2-2 tie. The Chiefs jumped out to a two-goal lead early, but North Island kept chipping away to even the score.
Chiefs assistant coach Bob McGuaig led a seminar for local coaches on how to run an effective power play and Knight noted McGuaig also offered up some interesting advice on skate profiling. The Chiefs then took on the Giants in front of a healthy crowd at Brennan Park. The Giants scored early and often, and skated away with the 7-2 win.
“I’m thankful this game doesn’t count in the standings,” Menard joked after the game on Sunday. “But it’s nice to be able to have the Giants out here. They’re usually one of the better teams in our league, so it’s good for us to test ourselves against them this early.”
Menard and Knight coached together on the Chiefs in the past and both said they’d like to continue some sort of pre-season arrangement in Squamish next year.
“I’d like to grow it,” Menard said, noting that his team stayed overnight. “It can sometimes be hard to get all the ice time together in the Lower Mainland and Squamish also gives us a chance to do some team-building exercises outside.”
Knight said he hopes to build on this year’s success with the BCMML teams. A number of other teams expressed interest in participating this year, but schedules just didn’t work out. He also thanked the Saturday night oldtimer’s hockey players for being generous with dressing room space and time.
“The benefit of something like this for our association is huge,” he said. “I’m optimistic about the future of our association, from this event being well attended, to just all of the new hockey players we have this year. We’re fielding teams in every division this year and it’s kind of exciting. I hope it’s a sign of things to come.”
The Chiefs will open the season on Saturday (Sept. 22) in Kelowna to take on the Okanagan Rockets. For more information on the BCMML, visit www.bchockey.net/mml.