Midget ‘AA’ hockey program saved

After looking as though the new “AA” Midget rep team would not hit the ice here, it was saved in a last-minute move at Monday night’s meeting of the local minor hockey association board.
Without a coach, the Midget program looked to be a distant memory before it even got off the ground until Dave Egan stepped forward to offer his services this season.
It could be the club’s biggest save of the year.
Given the large influx of talented Bantam-aged players expected to move up to Midget, the idea of icing a competitive “AA” team here appeared to be logical.
In fact, Egan has coached many of those players at the Bantam level with the B•Macs so he knows first-hand the quality moving up.
Egan said he felt there was a need to keep these talented players playing hockey during high school.
“I just felt there was too many kids who are basically quitting the game of hockey too early and this gives them a second chance,” he stressed.
“These guys are 16 [and] 17 years old and their skill level is still high so I hope we can build a good program,” he added.
Lynn Kellar, president of the Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association, said there could be as many as three Midget house league teams to complement the “AA” program, which is a huge jump from an age group that had just one house league squad last season.
“We wanted to offer a higher calibre of hockey for players past Bantam,” said Kellar yesterday. “We’re pretty excited with the team because it has some talent and we expect it can do well.”
Kellar said the house league teams will serve as a feeder system for the “AA” program by keeping the option of calling up players for tournaments or exhibition games.
“We want to keep it open so that even though a player doesn’t make the team in September, and he works hard and plays well in house league, then there’s that incentive to move up and play with the team in, say, November,” he explained.
The team will be holding tryouts Sept. 25-27 at Memorial Arena.
Kellar said the local association also is hoping to attract out-of-town players to try out for the team, which will play an exhibition schedule mostly against squads from Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba.
There’s also a possibility of playing teams from the States but that idea is on the backburner due to the low Canadian dollar these days.
Kellar said the exact schedule of the team would be Egan’s decision.
Egan confirmed he is looking at travelling to six or seven tournaments this year, and will look at the possibility of contacting some American teams.
Meanwhile, because the Midget program is basically in stage one, Egan said the rep team also is looking for a sponsor.
In related news, the league is looking at having all the Midget teams play on Wednesday nights this season in order to give the players a better chance to adjust their work schedules so they won’t have to miss games or practices.
“There’s just so many kids who have had to miss games in the past because they work during the winter,” noted Kellar.