Leaving home to play hockey

December 24, 2022

In a better minor hockey world a young teenager would not have to leave the comfort of home in Sault Ste. Marie to play for a similar team in Sudbury.

But that is what has happened because minor hockey officials in Sault Ste. Marie once again opted to have just one team in the Great North Under 18 Hockey League as opposed to the two that Sudbury — and North Bay, for that matter — have.

Nick Marson

For anyone who follows minor hockey, in this case the Great North loop, you are probably aware of the circumstances that led a pair of Sault Ste. Marie youngsters with 2007 birthdates — goalie Nick Marson and winger Coulson Bell — to head to Sudbury and play for the U16 Nickel Capitals this season after being cut by their hometown Soo Jr. Greyhounds.

If the Soo, like Sudbury and North Bay, had two teams in the Great North instead of just one then both Marson and Bell would most likely be playing and staying at home with their parents instead of attending high school and living with billet families 180 miles down the highway.

And it is not as though Marson and Bell are marginal players. Both are playing well for a U16 Nickel Capitals team that has a record of 8-5-1 in Great North regular season play.

Coulson Bell

Marson has a 5-1-1 record and a 3.11 goals against average for the 8-5-1 U16 Nickel Capitals while Bell has three goals, three assists, six points in 11 games. 

And both Marson and Bell played very well at the recent Waterloo Gold Puck Tournament. Marson won both of his starts and allowed just two goals for a 1.00 GAA while Bell rang up four assists in five games at the prestigious tournament.

Then there is another Sault Ste. Marie lad who is also playing in the Great North for Sudbury this season. He is 2006 birth year goalie A.J. Borrelli, who is with the U18 Nickel Capitals team.

Borrelli, who opted to leave home for Sudbury because of less opportunity in the Sault, has a 2-4-0 record and a 3.17 goals against average for a lowly U18 Nickel Capitals team that has a 4-11-0 record and a team GAA of 4.00.

A.J. Borrelli

At any rate, it is what it is. Sudbury has two teams competing in the Great North — the U16 Nickel Capitals and the U18 Nickel Capitals. And the much smaller town of North Bay also has two teams competing in the Great North — the U16 Trappers and the U18 Trappers.

But Sault Ste. Marie has only one team — the Jr. Greyhounds, who are in first place with a record of 12-1-0. Why just one team when both Sudbury and North Bay have two? This was the answer to that question from the Sault Major Hockey Association prior to the start of this season and the one before and the one before: “We have decided not to pursue a (second) team (in the Great North Under 18 Hockey League) at this time.”

Quite the explanation, eh.

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