GRAVENHURST - Hockey, by any other name, will still play as sweet in Gravenhurst next year.
Flanked by two professional hockey products of the Gravenhurst Minor Hockey Association in Stephanie Boyd and Kris King, Nathan Delarosbil was named the league’s Robbie McLaren Award winner for his dedication and goodwill on and off the ice.
Photo by Neil Etienne
Incorporated in 1939 and officially disbanded as of this spring, the Gravenhurst Minor Hockey Association (GMHA) held its final awards banquet in grand style last Wednesday night (April 4). Well more than 250 people gathered in the Terry Fox auditorium, most with a long history with the association, like parents who followed their parents into the league and children, who although new to the game, represented several generations of GMHA hockey players.
Joining them for what league president Jody Rowland called a “bittersweet” celebration were two of the Gravenhurst league’s most famed graduates: former NHL winger Kris King, who now works as the NHL’s senior vice-president of hockey operations in Toronto and Stephanie Boyd, a former U.S. hockey Olympian, university and National Women’s Hockey League player turned coach for the Aurora Junior AA Panthers.
Both former players host summer hockey camps in Gravenhurst with Boyd’s school the first and longest running female hockey school in the country, coming into its 22nd year. They both said it was the rinks and people of the town who spurred on their dreams and will to achieve.
“It’s a bigger night than you probably know; minor hockey in Gravenhurst is very important to both of us,” King said of his own and Boyd’s family in addressing the crowd. “We owe a lot to Gravenhurst and its minor hockey; it was a great opportunity for me and gave me the opportunity to be drafted into the Ontario Hockey League and my dream of playing in the NHL. It was the people in town that made it possible for me and I was one of you guys sitting out there; it’s funny how things come full circle sometimes.”
“It took some hard work (to make the NHL) but more importantly, it took support and a lot of that support came out of this room,” King added.
King said he was happy to see the amalgamation between Bracebridge and Gravenhurst’s minor hockey associations as a way to foster the sport. “I think it’s wonderful that this organization is to grow; I think it’s fantastic.”
Boyd told the crowd she felt the most important part of the game was the friendships made, and learning teamwork and the drive toward common goals.
“Hockey is just a game; but it teaches you a lot of life lessons,” she said. “It will absolutely teach you that for there to be a winner there has to be a loser.”
She explained her Panthers team made the provincial finals recently where they learned the harder lessons of sports and were quickly eliminated.
“The message to the kids I was coaching at that point was to feel this, feel what it’s like to lose and understand that one day you’ll feel what it is to win,” Boyd said. “Winning and losing in hockey are the winning and losing battles you have in life. When you play this game, you meet a lot of great people, and that’s truly what it’s all about.”
The evening continued with team medal presentations and awards. The final GMHA awards winners for each level are as follows (MD=Most Dedicated; MS=Most Sportsmanlike; MI=Most Improved):
Atom AE: MD - Andrew Matchett; MS - Derek Somerville; MI - Austin Hamer.
Atom: MD - Brandon Small; MS Cole Ruddell; MI - Tristan Gollan.
Peewee: MD - Devon Reid; MS - Austin Coady; MI - Sam Davidson.
Bantam: MD - Nathan Delarosbil; MS - Levi Sipos; MI - Braedon Haigh.
Robbie McLaren Award - Nathan Delarosbil.
Coach of the Year - Brian Worsley.
Volunteer of the Year - Tracy Barnes.
Now that the final awards and hardware have been handed out, the association’s final annual general meeting will represent the closing event for GMHA. It will be held at the Terry Fox auditorium in Gravenhurst Centennial Centre at 6:30 p.m., April 17.