By Doug Kennedy
Hockey Canada has made some big changes in the novice age group for this winter. Last week I wanted to check in to see how things were going, and to see if it has affected kid’s skills in the first half of the season. The rule change took out full-ice games, so the kids are now playing half-ice with pond hockey rules. This was put into place to help develop all players, as sometimes in novice only a few players handle the puck. As we all know, when big changes like that happen, it is not easy and there are bumps in the road. Last week I talked to a couple of hockey parents with kids in novice. A parent from Teeswater thought more kids were getting involved in the play, but was not sure if it is really helping her son. A parent from Ripley did not think it was helping, as the same kids had the puck all the time. No penalties were being called so the most aggressive kids got away with things they should not have.
Novice head coach Jared Adams has the toughest job implementing Hockey Canada’s new plan. Some of the positives he sees are the kids are improving their stickhandling in tighter spaces, and learning to keep their head up while doing it.
Kincardine is fortunate to have enough kids for three teams of 10. Shifts started out at one minute but have been bumped to one and a half minutes. One downside is the fitness level is down because of half-ice games. Adams is doing some dryland training to make up for this. Starting in January, they will start full ice games and have a year end tournament.
One thing you learn about Hockey Canada and these rule changes is you better get used to them, because they will not change. Over 20 years ago, they changed the midget age to help juvenile hockey and basically hurt it to the point where there are now half the number of teams. It makes it tough in small centres when there is three years of midget hockey. Even really good bantam players sometimes struggle in that first year of midget hockey.
A few years ago they made junior teams have only one 16-year-old per team, to help the AAA midget division. It has not worked, as more kids are coming back to their local minor hockey when they are 16.
I have sent many letters to Hockey Canada over the years to explain how things work in small town Ontario. They sit in that office in Calgary and change all these rules based on most things that happen in the city. I am not saying this novice change will not work. In some European countries, most kids do not play games until they are nine or 10.
The Bulldogs travelled to Mitchell on Friday night with a few players missing, and lost in overtime 4-3 to the Hawks. Missing Dan Skinner, Bryce Mcfadden, Caleb Martin and Brett Burrows meant four affiliated players played. Jordan Beisel, Jordan Moulton, Wilson Shipp and Mike Moore got to suit up on the weekend. Trevor Donaldson, Jake Fair and Jared Fossold all scored for the Bulldogs.
On Saturday night the Bulldogs were shorthanded again, but put in a good effort in a 4-1 loss to the Mount Forest Patriots. Jordan Caskenette scored the only goal, with assists to Jordan Beisel and Liam Colhoun. Beisel and Colhoun play on the Miller Insurance Midgets.
This weekend the Bulldogs play Walkerton at home Friday night and travel to Hanover on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game.
The KDSS boys travelled to the annual Norwell tournament last week and came away with a 2-1 win and a pair of losses to JR Ross and Guelph, 8-3 and 6-2. The line of Jordan Beisel, Jordan Moulton and Liam Colhoun were in on all the goals in the three games. Beisel scored four goals, with Moulton, Colhoun and Holden Stevenson getting singles. The boys will have a fun team to watch this season. There next home game is on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. against Walkerton.
The Wolves are now tied for first place with Saugeen Shores, with 10 wins and half one game in hand. Garrett Meurs has moved into second place in the league by scoring 23 points.
The Wolves kept on rolling, with a pair of wins last weekend. On Friday night they travelled to Petrolia, and came home with a 6-0 win. Jason Hamilton picked up the win stopping 32 shots. Garrett Meurs led the way with two goals and one assist. Single goals went to Brett Catto, Gerrit Satosek, Dan Nicoloff and Nick Seiler. Cody Britton had three assists, Satosek and Jordan Turcotte had two, with a single going to Tyler McCarthy.
On Saturday night at home, Gatlin Burt picked up the win in net, with a 7-1 win over Lucknow. Britton and Meurs scored two goals each to lead the way. Nicoloff, Jared Colling and Riley Conners all scored in the win. Assists went to Brent Walton, Nicoloff (two), Colling, Meurs, Tyson Soers, Dylan Sayle, Turcotte (two), and Pat Lobby (three).
The Wolves travel to Clinton on Friday night for a rematch of last year’s final. On Sunday afternoon they host Petrolia at 3 p.m.