The Hamilton Phantoms midget hub team is a great example of what is right with the game of hockey today. The team, nine games into the season, is looking for its first regular season win, but with this in mind the year has already proven to be a success in many ways.
At the outset of the current campaign, the coaching staff knew what lay ahead. They have a team full of 93s (players born in 1993) but many they play are stacked with 92s and several have played at the AA and triple A level.
While the Phantoms may lack a bit in size and experience, this team is full of heart, determination and is blessed with parents who know what the game of hockey is all about. “This is the first midget aged hockey team that I have had where all 17 players show up at every single practice; all players arrive on time – and eager to play no matter who the opponent.
“We won 31 games last season, a tournament championship, a provincial silver medal last year with many of these kids, I know they have now jumped to the next level of rep hockey, and some key development is required. I also know they can get there – it will just take some patience and collective hard work,” says head coach Chris Gill.
“The key to all this is watching the players develop and to remain calm as a coaching staff. Working hard at each and every ice time is a requirement – we need to build for the playoffs – the rest of these regular season games are all just exhibition really.
“It’s easy to coach a team full of superstars, anyone can do that. Here, we know that we need to craft a team from many players making the jump to rep hockey at a late age,” added assistant coach Bruno Santonato.
This team is thick as thieves in and out of the hockey rink, and they have shown a determination to improve with each game. A recent game against Ancaster ended 3-2 game, with the opponent scoring in the last 30 seconds. Despite the loss, the team learned a key lesson – that you must play a full 45 minutes all out. It was a very close game and served to demonstrate to the Phantom players that they can compete with the best of them.
With strong leadership from veteran Hub players such as Cameron Young, Kevin Smith, Adrian Santonato and Jordan Salisbury, the team is making progress every ice time. In net Sal Salamone and Dylan Gill share the duties. One of the players who has made the jump from select to rep is Spencer Clarke, who has quickly shown he belongs in the league by scoring a goal in the last game. Jon Hooper has also turned some heads with a few point-shot goals this season.
One thing is certain – these midget age hockey players are a one of a kind group that has formed many friendships for years to come.
There is so much more to the game than the score. Many life long lessons are learned, the most important being that by working hard, good things will result.
Coach Gill wants to thank the great group of parents who have shown unwavering support for this team’s each and every game. “Those parents who lead by example, will encourage the players in a way they know will benefit everyone involved. The main thing is the kids focus on skill development and having fun with their friends.”
Here’s to the Midget Hub Phantoms! A team to remember.