Ducks quack after resounding echo

The Cayman Islands Youth Roller Hockey Travel Team has just wrapped up an amazing 2013 season and is pleased to share the successes they earned over the year.  

Dubbed the Dart Ducks, the squad recently competed in the ECHO Fall Classic Roller Hockey Tournament in Ft. Myers, Florida. With the 10 and Unders winning the gold medal and the 8 and Unders winning the silver medal, it was an exciting and triumphant way to end the year. This feat improves on the success the teams had in at the Spring Classic in Ft. Myers in May, when the 8 and 10 and Under teams won silver medals.  

Both appearances had players competing against strong international teams and tested their endurance, skills and strategy, but the Cayman Islands team stood strong and played hard to achieve great results. 

In between these two tournaments, the Ducks became the first local roller hockey team ever to compete in the North American Roller Hockey Championships in Toronto, Canada, in July. The tournament represented the very best teams across North America as well as internationally.  

Amongst stiff competition, the 8U and 10U teams played extremely well, with the 8Us competing hard in every game and the 10Us winning bronze in the club division. Special mention goes to Jayden Mannisto, who competed against goalies to win the Shoot-Out skills competition for his age group. 

“We are extremely fortunate that the kids get the opportunity to play in international tournaments,” said coach Scott Hughes. “Not only is it great exposure for them as athletes and competitors, but it also allows them to experience a whole different caliber of play. They are all so proud to represent Cayman and they act as great ambassadors whenever we’re away. 

“We’ve spoken to many parents from other teams that are not only impressed with our level of play but are also impressed with the sportsmanship of our teams – many have expressed interest in travelling to Cayman because of this! We have looked into hosting a tournament for 2015, which would bring a boost to the sports tourism product in Cayman.  

“The Dart Ducks certainly have piqued the interest of international roller hockey teams to come to Cayman with our attendance at overseas tournaments.” 

Funding for the trips abroad come mainly from parents but various fundraising efforts the team holds throughout the year – including bake sales, quiz nights and garage/book sales – help subsidize those efforts.  

Team officials thank the volunteer coaches – Scott Hughes, Rich Hastings, Mike Mannisto and Aaron Knapik – for all their efforts in getting the team ready this year. The team would also like to thank team organizer Niki Hastings, treasurer Julie Hughes and all the parents for their support over the last year. Thanks to our sponsors, including Dart Cayman, for their support in providing team jerseys and assisting with on-island training costs. 

For the 2014 season, the team will be managed by Evan Ellbogen, the new hockey program director at Kings Sports Center. Evan played for Canada’s national roller hockey team and comes with a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge. 

“I am thrilled to be here coaching and managing the hockey program in Cayman, there are a lot of talented players and through hard work and lots of practice, the league will continue to grow and the travel team will continue to succeed as it has done in years past,” Ellbogen said. 

“For a small island, there are a lot of hockey fans and great hockey players – I look forward to bringing my passion of hockey to develop and enhance the skills of current players whilst encouraging young players to get involved in this great sport.” 

For any players interested in making the 2014 squad, Evan will be running open tryouts for the 8U, 10U, 12U and 14U age groups before year end at Kings. 

In addition to the travel team, Kings has organized roller hockey leagues for kids 5-16 in addition to a learn-to-skate program for kids aged 4-10. Practices are held weekly and games are every Saturday.  

 

For more information, contact Evan Ellbogen at [email protected] 

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The Dart Ducks excelled in Florida. Back, coach Scott Hughes, coach Aaron Knapik, Nick McCallum, Sadie Finch, Tommy Kehoe, Justin Hastings, coach Rich Hastings and coach Mike Mannisto. Front, Ryan Godwin, Kayden Knapik. Jayden Mannisto, Josh Small, Molly Kehoe, Alex Priestley, Jabari Walrond, Natahan Hughes, Andy Hastings, Connor Finch and Norah Hughes.

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Evan Ellbogen is the new director at Kings. – PHOTO: MATTHEW YATES
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