SPORTS March 11th, 2018

By

First-ever junior hockey title goes to Northern

Team won it all in league's first season

Northern
PHOTO COURTESY BRIAN GAW PREMIERE CLASS: Northern's junior hockey team claimed the first title during the TDSSAA City Finals.

It was a great year for hockey at Northern Secondary School.

The land of the Red Knights had over 70 kids put on the uniform for the school, including the first-ever junior boys non-contact hockey league which was spearheaded by phys-ed teacher Brian Gaw.

It’s early March, and Gaw is still basking in the afterglow of a successful season for both the school and the Toronto District School Board. He also the convenor for boys’ hockey in the TDSSAA.

“I’ve been trying for years to convince these guys that you definitely have more hockey players than at the senior levels,” he said of his work both at Northern and in the TDSSAA. “So, (I said) let’s give the chance to these kids to don the jersey of their school and play against their peers.”

Five teams laced up the skates to compete, including Malvern, Monarch Park, John Polanyi CI and Danforth Tech.

“It was overdue and it was an overwhelming success and we happened to be the fortunate winners of the inaugural city championships,” Gaw said, adding the team went undefeated, save for a shootout loss to Malvern in an exhibition outdoor game held in the Beach. “We had a lot of fun. They beat us in a shootout. It was snowing. It was a perfect Canadian day for an outdoor game.”

It was only fitting that the Red Knights would meet the Black Knights in the first ever final. Northern would win 6-3 but for everyone involved it was great to see the hard work and practice pay off.

Wearing the C for the team, composed of AAA, AA, A and select players, was Jake Bucovetsky.

“We had more Grade 9s than 10s on our team. Just trying to educate these kids of the routines of playing high school sports and making sure they understood where they were going, was new,” Gaw said. “They were really green and raw and it was nice that they got to play with guys in their own grade. They weren’t intimidated or reluctant to come to tryouts.”

Junior Hockey in the TDSB will grow, as Gaw added some schools did not get a notice in enough time to put together teams. This winter it is expected to grow.

To wrap up the league, Malvern is organizing a game at the Ricoh Coliseum, March 28, against their new-found rivals. It will take place in advance of the Marlies match against the Le Rocket de Laval.