Two former Sunshine Coast Blues players-turned-coaches have inspired the local hockey team to become strong contenders for the provincial title next week.
In the early summer 2021, the Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association approached former Blues player Caymen Froude to lead the U18 A1 team as head coach for the 2021/22 season. Cayman was keen.
Coaching at this high level of hockey demands a high level of commitment, as the coaches not only need to be with the team five or six days a week, but then there’s travel to away games, tournaments, playoffs and team building activities.
Last year’s U15 A1 coach Coty Haikonen, also a former Blues player, stepped up to join Cayman on the coaching staff. Both of these young men have done an incredible job connecting with the youth – providing guidance and life lessons – while advancing the skills development of all players.
The beginning of the season saw a limited number of players try out for the team, which left the club with a small roster, but what they lacked in quantity they brought in depth, skill and the passion to succeed.
After going undefeated in four exhibition games, the Blues went on to win their first eight games in the placement round. They were immediately bumped up to compete in a higher “flight.”
As the regular season started, they stumbled coming out of the gates with only one win, one loss and three ties, but as the season went on, it was clear that they were the team to beat.
Ending the regular season with an exciting match up against the second place team from Chilliwack, in front of a full house at the Gibsons Area Community Centre arena, the Blues triumphed to secure first place and bring home the regular season banner.
The Blues then began the playoffs with some confidence and rolled over the first team which placed them in the “Final Four” tournament against the remaining top three teams in their tier in a round robin-style tournament in Aldergrove, March 3 to 6.
The top two teams from this tournament are guaranteed a position in the provincial finals, while the winner is crowned the playoff champion from across the Lower Mainland.
The Blues battled hard and won their first two games of the “Final Four,” but their toughest opponent was still to come in the finals. Mission A1 always has a hard-hitting team that competes at a very high level – “flight” one throughout the regular season. The Blues pushed through the butterflies heading into that game and after 60 minutes of hard work, they had beat Mission to take the playoff championship and playoff banner.
“It was a surreal feeling,” the players said – adding that they have a unique team this season and that all get along extremely well and help contribute to their wins. The Blues have only lost twice in 37 games this season.
The next step for the Midget A1 Blues is to get ready to travel up to the north of Vancouver Island March 18 to 23, to compete for the provincial title against teams from as far away as Whitehorse and Nelson.
Coach Cayman has already started scheduling some extra ice times so that the team is primed and ready to represent the Sunshine Coast at the finals. The team has started a Facebook page (U18A Blues Provincials 2022) so that people can follow to get updates. They will also be looking for donations from companies and others who would like to help subsidize the youths’ trip north. If you would like to donate, please contact the team at: firstname.lastname@example.org.