The Nickel City Bantam "A" Sharks come in all shapes and sizes.
Together, they bonded to share a common goal. Reeling off five consectuive wins in Sudbury in December, the Sharks captured gold at the Sudbury Regional Silver Stick, earning a trip to Port Huron last weekend.
Easily one of the most diminutive players in his age group, speedy forward Kyle Dessureault appreciates the varied mix that his team can present in their lineup. "We have a lot of good skaters this year, a lot of heads up players," said the 14 year old grade nine student at Lo-Ellen Park.
"We have big guys too - lots of big guys. We're a pretty good team."
With the introduction of body checking into his division one year ago, Dessureault understands that his game must be altered, just a touch. "I have to be quicker than them," he said. "I have to be in and out, go in the corners and come out with it. And I have to keep my head up."
Though a little big bigger than his teammate, winger Marty Wissell is still more skill than power forward. But perhaps more than anything else, he is all about the intangibles that he brings to his team, a former captain of his peewee squad, and an alternate captain with the Sharks.
"I just try and get along with everyone, and try and play the game as best as possible," said Wissell, also 14 years of age, but attending E.S.C. l'Horizon in Val Caron. "Against every team, you have to think that this is the hardest team, the biggest game that we are ever going to play."
"We have to treat it like the most important tournament of our lives, because it won't happen that often. It's the best teams from all of Ontario and even the U.S., and they all had to win a tournament, just to get there, so you know there's not going to be an easy game."
While his team was not particularly challenged at the regional tournament, coach John Beals was thankful that a previously arranged January road trip was set to precede their journey to the International Silver Stick playdowns.
"Fortunately, last weekend, we were in the Aurora tournament," said Beals. "We faced a lot of good teams within the same ranking range as us, anywhere from the fifties to the thirties, in the province."
A tough 4-3 semi-final loss to the Welland Tigers not only ensured that his team would remain grounded, heading State-side, but also supplied another important lesson. "One of the things I really liked in that semi-final game is that we got down and battled back," explained Beals.
"What I didn't like was that we came out of the dressing room, to start the game, with the rankings in our heads. We beat ourselves."
In Port Huron, this past weekend, the Nickel City Sharks struggled in their opening game, beaten 7-2 by the Metro Maple Leafs from Odenton, Maryland, but recovered to edge the Saint Clair Shores Saints 3-2, before going toe to toe with the eventual gold medal winning Barrie Colts, succumbing by a final score of 6-4.
Rounding out the Sharks roster are Cole Stack, Owen Leblanc, Guyen De Silva, Tyson Violette Cecile, Tanner Rollins, Patrick Beals, Nicholas Nadeau, Brody Cloutier, Macie Setterington, Chris Dore, Liam Lacroix, Ty Cloutier, Alex Hachez and William McBride.