Predators hunt down Canadiens

The PwC Predators are now atop the standings in local youth hockey. 

PwC won a double header in the 8 and Under division of the youth roller hockey league at Kings Sports Centre. Last Saturday, the Predators edged the Canadiens, 8-6, before feasting on the Blackhawks, 12-2. Heading into this week, PwC have a 4-1-2 record, ahead of the 3-3 Blackhawks and 2-1-4 Canadiens. Matches continue on Oct. 25 as the Blackhawks face the Canadiens at noon before battling PwC at 1 p.m. 

Coaches Cary Marr and Jason Windsor of the Predators are proud of the progress their young skaters have made this season. Windsor said the side is moulded after professional sports teams. 

“We have been trying to teach the kids total hockey,” Windsor said. “Modelled after Barcelona football’s total soccer philosophy or the strong puck possession of the Detroit Red Wings in the National Hockey League, we have been teaching the kids position-less hockey in order to learn how to support every play on the floor and to seamlessly transition and support the team from all areas of the floor. Total hockey forces each player on the team to be strong offensive and defensive players and forces kids to acquire all the skills needed to become a good hockey player.”  

Statistically, PwC have excelled by scoring a competition-best 181 goals while allowing 43 goals. By comparison, the Canadiens have scored 52 goals while allowing 58 goals and the Blackhawks have scored 28 goals while allowing 160 goals. Windsor said the numbers bear out the tactics being taught to his players. 

“First, we try to emphasize for kids to first practice their individual skating, puck handling and passing technique,” Windsor said. “Second, we teach where the team should position themselves tactically in each situation on the floor and emphasize always skating hard to get to the right position – then the kids get more puck possession quickly. 

“Third, play position-less hockey so that all players understand the most efficient places to go to regain position of the puck, so kids understand that forming triangles to support the person possessing the puck is a great way to always keep the puck away from the opposition and so kids learn to think the game so they understand the total team concept and work hard to help support their team.”  

On an individual level, the Predators have a spectacular talent in Gavin Sunley. The youngster has the most goals, 41, in the competition with teammate Robbie Sved adding nine goals. Sunley is also tied for third in passing with three assists. Windsor says Sunley is one of many noteworthy players.  

“All the kids on PwC have improved so far this season,” he said. “Gavin, one of the top scorers in the league, has been improving his stability on his skates, toughness and passing skills. Combined with his already strong stick handling and skating skills, we hope Gavin improves to be the best player in Cayman at his age level. Jakub Neveril has been looking like a little Dominic Hasek, backstopping the Predators to a couple of victories this season.  

“Cassian Marshall, Rhys Marr, Nicky Sved and Rio Windsor – all seven-years-old – are all improving their skating and stick handling each session. Robbie and Anthony Catalanotto have each developed into good stick handlers and goal scorers, each blossoming with a couple of goals last Saturday.” 

Aside from the Predators, a number of teams have excelled in the youth league. The Ecay Traders remain atop the 13 and Under division at 5-1 after thrashing the Ernst and Young Eagles, 8-4, last week. With the Hudson Hawks crushing the Islanders, 10-4, the standings show Ecay ahead of the 4-1-1 Hawks, 1-1-4 Eagles and the 0-2-4 Islanders. Ethan Finlason of the Hawks is the top performer with a league-best 21 goals and 13 assists. Games continue this weekend as Ecay face the Islanders on Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. before the Hawks and Eagles square off at 9 a.m. on Oct. 25. 

The KPMG Canucks are the lone undefeated team in the competition, topping the 10 and Under segment at 6-0. KPMG beat the Deloitte Devils, 12-5, last week while the Stars clipped the Burger King Whoppers, 6-5. Deloitte, 3-3, are second in the standings ahead of 2-4 Burger King and 1-5 Stars. Molly Kehoe of Deloitte is top scorer with 25 goals while Jake Booker of the Stars has a league-best 10 assists. Games continue this weekend as Deloitte challenge Burger King on Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. before the Stars face the Canucks on Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. 

Coach Windsor says the level of play seen in the other divisions is a credit to Kings hockey director Evan Ellbogen. 

“On behalf of all of the coaches and players in Cayman kids hockey, I would like to thank Evan for his efforts in teaching the kids to become great hockey players,” he said. “Evan is both the best hockey coach Cayman has ever had – always creates fun practices for kids, teaches and demands excellent technique from the kids – and is currently the best all-around player in the country. I encourage the kids and other coaches in Cayman to really listen to what Evan says and try their best at practice.  

“It is unbelievable that a small island in the Caribbean like Cayman has a world roller hockey championship-caliber player coaching our young hockey players. I encourage existing players wanting to improve their games to come watch Evan play on Tuesday nights, 8 or 9 each week. Evan plays beautiful hockey and you can learn a lot about how to be a good hockey player just by copying what Evan does when he plays. Kids who try hard to perform at practice following coach Evan’s teaching could potentially become world championship-level roller hockey players in the future.  

“I strongly encourage anyone interested in playing hockey to sign up now while Cayman continues to be blessed having the top player and top hockey coach running the Cayman kids hockey program.” 

Jason-Windsor

Jason Windsor has a deep understanding of hockey. – PHOTOS: MATTHEW YATES

Evan-Ellbogen

Evan Ellbogen is arguably Cayman’s best player.