By Aethne Hinchliffe
FOR THE VANGUARD
The BMO Western Hurricanes Major Bantam hockey team is set to host the Nova Scotia Major Bantam Hockey League provincial championships at Queens Place Emera Centre in Liverpool from Thursday, March 15 to Sunday, March 18.
Prior to this past weekend, the Hurricanes were first place in their league with 26 wins, five losses and one tie.
Four games are slated for the first day of the provincial tournament with the opening ceremony at 6 p.m.
There are seven games set for the Friday and three for Saturday with a skills competition at 4 p.m. The top four teams will advance to Sunday’s semi-finals, and the championship game is slated for 2 p.m. on March 18.
Playoff rounds will begin March 3 to determine which teams will compete in the seven-team tournament.
The Nova Scotia Major Bantam Hockey League includes 12 teams. Ian Creaser, tournament chair, and vice-president and treasurer of the Western Hurricanes, says the team’s catchment area is from Hubbards to Clare.
“The players have to live in those boundaries to play on this team,” he says.
Four members of the team are from Yarmouth County: Ty Duffus, Cameron Jacquard, Allie Munroe and Hunter Hurlburt. Others have played in the Yarmouth County Minor Hockey Association, this includes Jordan Messenger and Christopher Goreham.
The team also has two affiliate players from Yarmouth: Quinten Johnson and Colby Muise.
Each spring the top bantam-aged players are invited to an identification camp to try out for the team.
“It’s usually by invitation because we do a lot of scouting of all the minor hockey players,” says Creaser.
Selection continues in August and the team is named in September. Creaser says for the second season in a row the Western Hurricanes have won the league championship. Even before their regular league season officially ended, the Hurricanes had already clinched first place.
The team practices once a week for two-and-a-half hours in Liverpool. There’s only one practice each week because some players are traveling from as far away as Yarmouth.
Once players are too old for bantam, some may continue to play hockey with major midget programs.
“This is our first time hosting this tournament, and we’re excited to be hosting it in Liverpool at the new facility,” Creaser says.
Tournament passes are available for sale from all players for $20. A tournament pass will get you into all games and if purchased before March 15 it will give a person a chance to win one of five cash prizes. Multiple pass purchasers can also advertise in the tournament program.
Locally, tournament passes are being sold by families of the Yarmouth players. The tournament passes and day passes will also be sold during provincials. Youth under 14 receive free admission.
The provincials tournament schedule, once available, will be posted on the team’s website. The team is coached by Brad Muise of Bridgewater with assistant coaches Andrew Holland of Barrington and A.J.MacKinnon of Bridgewater.
(With files from Tina Comeau)