The final week of regular season play came to a close in the Cayman Islands Youth Roller Hockey League at Kings Sports Centre over the weekend.
With the playoffs starting this weekend it seems appropriate to mention a few of the leagues rookies, veterans and ‘diggers.’
Talk starts first with Jagger Hope of the Five Continent Leafs, a much-respected youth hockey veteran. Hope spent a few seasons between the pipes and became much feared by goal scorers like Finn Walker, Tynan Klein and Chris Messer.
Last year Hope went into ‘semi-retirement’ as a goalie and decided to try playing “out”. Hope is a sniper to be reckoned with boasting a mature sense of the game and the ability to pick his spots well.
He was a leading point-scorer for the Leafs this season and added four more to his total over the weekend. He is simply a player with the heart that inspires his team-mates.
Then again the hunt for inspiring players turns to rookie sensations Andrew Antonysraj and Ben Williams, both of whom were drafted by Appleby Sharks coaches Norm Klein and Tim Derksen.
Neither one of these players had played hockey in their lives, yet they had the interest in the popular learn-to-skate program at Kings and bravely registered for the September season of hockey in the PeeWee league.
In spite of the league being dominated by veteran players and goal-scoring prodigies the youngsters excelled. In fact, in a few short weeks Antonysraj and Williams were more than holding their own.
In one recent game, each of them scored two goals a piece.
Then there are the ‘diggers’, the players that are the first on and last off the rink at practice, the players that beg their coaches to keep them on for another shift and who look for nothing more than the joy of playing a sport with their friends.
Finn ‘the hockey talker’ Walker is a prime example of the term as he lives and breathes hockey. Walker played for Hurley’s Hawks this season and was not only part of a division leader but earned the title of league-leading scorer with a staggering 45 total points this season.
Other hockey diggers include Duncan Petrie and Alex Agemian, both of whom played for the Hurley’s Hawks this season.
Petrie is the son of Gina Ebanks and Dr. Petrie, so he comes by his team spirit quite naturally. He routinely plays defense and has repeatedly shown his passion for the sport.
He has also taken a few turns in net and has held off many attacks by veteran snipers like Jagger Hope, Chris Messer and Tynan Klein.
Agemian, son of hockey player and coach Patrick Agemian has hockey in his blood. Agemain too has taken his turns in goal and proved to be absolutely stellar. A very versatile young player, Agemian is also a keen offensive play-maker and goal scorer.
Another unsung player is Ryan Japal, son of Atlantic Department Store owner Ms. Dot. A relative newcomer to hockey the towering Japal has shown marked improvement in one short year.
There’s Nicole Whittaker, another relative newcomer to hockey who has shown true team spirit and love of the game. This past season, Whittaker played for the Hurley’s Hawks, coming early and staying late to watch other hockey games.
She plays the game like a veteran and her skating and scoring skills have made her a force to be reckoned with.
Of course the game of hockey would be incomplete without coaches. The local youth roller hockey program relies on volunteer coaches. Some of the coaches have children in the league while others do not but all come to Kings to share their passion for the game with eager youngsters. The local roller hockey club thanks all of those coaches for their time and all players’ parents for their support.
Hockey is a wonderful sport because it thrives on true team spirit and play. It relies on a unique sense of heart that puts all players, regardless of skill level, on an even playing rink.
Thanks to the volunteer efforts of all their coaches, these boys and girls bring out the best in each other and add to the sports landscape of Cayman.
A lasting impact of youth hockey can be seen in the life of retired NHL bad boy Theo Fleury.
The brash goal-scoring prodigy credits his childhood success as a hockey player to volunteer coaches. In his recent autobiography ‘Playing with Fire’, Fleury says: ‘And our coaches were super, focused, caring parents who taught us respect, manners and no matter how talented you were, nobody is bigger than the team. Every team member has to care about the others.’
Our local youth hockey players have the same kind of heart and soul that makes hockey such a great sport in Cayman.
- For more information about the youth roller hockey program and how you can participate as a player or volunteer, please email [email protected].