For Team NOHA, the 2014 OHL Gold Cup represents one final event that they can enjoy together. Bringing together eight all-star teams representing the various branches within the OHF (Ontario Hockey Federation), the mini-tournament provides one last opportunity to impress, as a group, the hockey officials that handle player selections for the U17 rosters next Christmas.
The competition differs from all others, in that it takes place after the OHL draft. When it comes to Team NOHA, a small handful of players were fortunate enough to have been selected, the majority not.
If there has been criticism of the importance placed on the draft, causing players and parents such disapointment that the interest in hockey wanes substantially, it is certainly not evident with Alex Guido.
"I didn't get drafted, and I still want to play," he said confidently. "I'm still looking forward to this tournament. Just the experience, and getting to play with all of these good players, it will help you."
The Gold Cup also differs from other events in that all eight teams are all-star squads, compared to the club teams that Team NOHA had to face earlier in the year. "I think it levels the playing field, because before they were teams that had bonded and had chemistry," said Guido.
"But this makes the teams a lot stronger. There are a lot of good players playing together," he continued. "The GTHL teams are going to be really strong, but it's going to fun playing against them."
While many 16 year old hockey prospects can't wait to get out of town to pursue their dreams, Guido is leaning towards staying at home in 2014-2015, looking at either junior hockey or midget "AAA" options.
"I know a lot of kids are going major midget," he said. "There are a few going junior "A", but there's a lot going major midget." Team NOHA opened play on Thursday with a 2-0 loss at the hands of Team OMHA Black.
Nicholas Prestia and Nicholas Caamano managed to get pucks past North Bay netminder Colton Point, who was outstanding for the northern crew, stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced.
The Team NOHA roster for the OHL Gold Cup features (local athletes bolded) Colton Point, Tyler Mazzocato, Carmen Scarfone, Matthew Murray, Dakotah Woods, Robert Buckley, Adam Baggs, Brady Cloutier, Ryan Mooney, Jonathan Hammond, Tristan Simeoni, Dillan Bruce, Broedy Bertrand, Thomas Farrell, Makenzie MacMillan, Jakob Porco, Joel Grandbois, Alex Guido, Zack Dorval and Zachary Senecal.********************
In other NOHA news, the Annual General Meeting was held in Sudbury over the weekend, with one long-time local hockey volunteer receiving special recognition. Bob Bellerose, the man who has been President of the Valley East Minor Hockey Association for as long as anyone can remember, was honoured with the Angus Campbell Merit Award.
The award is presented to an individual for outstanding service to the game, other than as a player, for a period of not less than ten years of continuous duration. "Robert Bellerose exemplifies the definition of outstanding service to the game," noted an NOHA-issued release.
Holding positions within the VEMHA as either a coach, trainer, manager or convenor, Bellerose has served as association President for 14 years. The Hanmer native was also nominated for the House of Kin Bill Roman Administration Award just a few years ago.********************
Beyond the acknowledgment of the various award winners, the NOHA release was noteworthy in one other glaring area. Providing a listing of the NOHA Council Directors for the 2014-2015 season, the release noted that no less than six of the nine districts did not have nominations to fill the positions representing their area, though some had already stepped forward in the past few days.
"Part of the issue was that the timeline to submit the applications changed to February 1st this year," stated NOHA Executive Director Jason Marchand. "Honestly, it's not on peoples' minds at that time."
That said, the NOHA is acutely aware that concerns regarding the challenge of recruiting volunteers cannot be ignored. "It obviously is an issue, and we actually had a discussion, at the end of the meeting, from the floor, talking about ways to attract people to volunteer," said Marchand.
"A lot of sports organizations seem to be having trouble finding volunteers," he continued. "I'm not sure what the solution is, but we'll keep trying to figure it out."