As it now stands, Sault Ste. Marie will be represented by two teams effective the 2017-2018 Great North Midget Hockey League season. But there is a condition to having both a major midget and minor midget entry in the Great North loop.
The condition is that the minor midget team will only be allowed to proceed if there is a major midget club. In other words, the minor midget team from the Sault will be denied participation in the Great North if there are not enough players to ice a major midget entry.
Ergo, best case scenario is that the Sault has enough major midget aged players (2001 and 2000 birth dates) to form a team to allow for a minor midget squad exclusive to players born in 2002.
Hopefully the coaching staffs of the major midget and minor midget teams will end up on the same page with a common goal of player opportunity and development at both levels.
To be sure, team work is an absolute key to the success and sustainability of major midget and minor midget clubs operating under the Sault Major Hockey Association banner.
Just take a look at the North Bay and District Hockey Association and the way all teams work together under the Trappers banner. If ever there has been a local hockey association that defines “working together” it is in North Bay, where the level of the program has gone from the outhouse to the penthouse in a matter of a few years.
At any rate, back to the Sault midget hockey scene.
As smaller-city North Bay has enough players to support major midget and minor midget hockey teams for the 2017-2018 season, so too does the Sault. Right now though, an apparent concern in the Sault is that a number of major midget players are contemplating playing high school hockey next season.
That aside, given the size of the Sault versus North Bay, one would think (and hope) that there are enough players locally to support two teams in the Great North league. And as long as association politics and adult egos don’t get in the way, Sault Ste. Marie should be represented by major midget and minor midget teams effective the 2017-2018 season.
By the way, there is talk that a number of 2001 birth year players do not want to play major midget because they “don’t like the coach.”
Since when do you have to “like the coach” as a condition of playing for a team?
Let’s go back a few years.
Do you think every player on the team liked Mike Hall when he was coaching what were then called the Soo North Stars midgets? Not a chance. In fact, more than one player who was cut by Hall one year not only came back to make the team the next year but ended up playing in the Ontario Hockey League.
Back to the current state of midget hockey in the Sault.
The numbers are there to support major midget and minor midget. But it’s up to the players to want to play and it’s up to the parents to want to support the program and it’s up to the personnel in charge of the major midget and minor midget teams to work together and not against each other.
Sound simple? It really can be.
When you think about it in simple terms, it’s amazing what can be accomplished when all sides work together.
Just ask the folks in nearby North Bay.
And hopefully when the Great North league holds its scheduling meeting (on Saturday, June 24) that all goes as planned with nine teams — major midget and minor midget squads from the Sault, North Bay and Sudbury and single entries from Kapuskasing, New Liskeard and Timmins.