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HomeNewsFour minor hockey teams from Muskoka among Ontario's best

Four minor hockey teams from Muskoka among Ontario’s best

The Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) Championships will feature four teams from Muskoka.

The South Muskoka Bears’ U13, U15, and U18 D teams will be part of their respective tier 3 divisions while the Huntsville Otters U15 B team will compete for the tier 1 title.

Jody Somerville, president of the South Muskoka Minor Hockey Association, says they were proud to send two teams to the OMHA Championships last year and are “over the moon” to send three this year.

“Lots of nerves, lots of excitement but lots of new friends, new people, new experiences,” she says. “It’s really a great opportunity.”

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Tanya Neal, team manager for the Huntsville squad, says a 10-month season and her eight years prior working with many of the boys on the team has led to this.

“There’s a lot of effort by parents and coaches and the team themselves to get to this point,” she says. “Tournaments are exciting, games are exciting but this is really the big thing at the end of the year that you’re trying to accomplish and we made it.”

The hundreds of games played this season culminated over the past few weeks during each minor hockey association’s playoffs. Neal explains when the playoffs begin for Ontario’s various minor hockey associations, the teams are divided up based on skill to ensure fairness.

“The eight years to get here has really been a result of their hard work and all the great coaching staff we’ve had along the way,” adds Neal.

The Bears and Otters are part of the Georgian Bay Minor Hockey League.

Neal says it’s been a while since the Otters made the OMHA Finals.

“It could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them,” she adds.

Seeing them win brings Neal a lot of pride, but so does how the team reacts after a loss. “They try to support each other, I would say, more now than they have done in the past,” she explains.

Neal admits it’s never easy to lose but she says she sees the boys take the time to reflect now about what went wrong and what they may be able to do better next time.

Ahead of the competition starting, Somerville says they’re trying to make sure the teams can get ice time to practice. She explains the OMHA tournament will see over 350 teams battle for 45 red hats. Somerville says the hat is one of the prizes teams get if they win their OMHA division.

“Just being part of the event is quite prestigious,” she says.

The OMHA Finals take place between April 5 and 7. The Bears will play their game in Halton Hills while the Otters will be in Kingston.

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