Gavin Hart, Riley MacInnis and Hunter Martin, all in their second year with the Bearcats team, have been named to Nova Scotia’s under-15 team bound for the Atlantic championships this weekend.
For Hart and MacInnis, it will be their second trip to the tournament, after winning the under-14 division last October. For Hunter, it will be his first chance to show his skills on the provincial level.
“I guess you have to feel good about yourself since you get to represent your province in this tournament,” Martin, of Truro, said.
Last year, Hart was near the top in team scoring with five points in as many games. MacInnis chipped in with three goals en route to the team sweeping the tournament.
Things came together quickly for the team, and MacInnis said he expects the same will happen this year.
“It didn’t take us as long as I thought it would (to come together) last year,” he said. “Everyone clicked. There’s isn’t much time to waste.”
Hart said he’s looking forward to the tournament after focusing so much time and effort in solidifying himself as a top player at the bantam level.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “Everything you work for, and it all comes down to that.”
Coming off a breakout season, Hart is wearing the ‘C’ for the Bearcats this year. His coach, Lou Lanceleve, places him among the best players in the province.
“In my mind, there’s no player I’d rather build a team around in this league. To be modest, I’d put him in the top-three players his age. But for me, he’s number one.”
The five-foot-six Bible Hill native posted 31 points in 33 games last season on a team that shared ice time evenly among forwards. So far this season, he has four goals and two assists in four games.
The Bearcats, coming off a major turnaround season last year, are off to a 2-4-0 start. Discipline has been the No. 1 issue for the team, with things coming to a head after a loss on Saturday night in St. Margaret’s Bay. Down one goal in the final minute and their net empty, the Bearcats scored to tie the game, but the goal was disallowed due to a crosschecking penalty on the play.
Lanceleve “pulled in the reins” on his players after the game and saw a much different team show up on Sunday afternoon for a home game against Bedford. Prior to the game, Lanceleve wrote two things on a white board – “discipline” and “two points” – and placed it in the centre of the room. The Bearcats went on to outshoot their opponents by a 30-shot margin and net a 3-1 win.
The group is still feeling each other out, after starting the season with just five returning players.
“It’ll come around,” Martin said. “I think we’ve all played hockey with each other at least once (before this year). We all have an idea of how we play, so it takes a lot less work to get used to playing together.”
This weekend, there won’t be much time to get used to anything for the three young players. Their Nova Scotia team opens the tournament against New Brunswick on Friday, 8 p.m. They’ll take on P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador on Saturday before playoff games start on Sunday and carry into Monday.