Bringing home a championship comes with some mixed feelings for Newmarket’s U16AA team.
Assistant captain Evan Snyder said their 2-1 win in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) championship was emotional. With much of the team playing together since a young age, the win was the last before part of the team splits apart.
“I had a lot of fond memories with that team,” he said. “It was good to end on a good note … It’s good knowing that if I go back in 20 years, I can just see that banner in the rafters.”
The Newmarket community celebrated as the team brought home the championship April 2. The squad dominated throughout the regular season with a 21-3-6 record. They went on to play at the OMHA playoffs in Kingston, with a 2-0-1 record in round-robin play, before battling to make it through elimination games to take home the trophy.
Team coach Steve Levick said the group set a goal at the start of the year to win the OMHA title, after coming up just short last year.
“The fact these boys were able to do it was incredible,” he said. “Our greatest strength is how tight the bond is between all the players on that team. Our dressing room is a ton of laughs and smiles. We all got along, and that’s a huge component of being a really good team.
“It was just an incredible season, just because the boys were so hungry after last year’s loss,” he added.
Members of the community offered their praise for the achievement.
“Congratulations boys,” Newmarket Mayor John Taylor said on social media. “Newmarket is proud of you!”
The team will not all be playing together next season. Though some will continue on to U18 together, others will be pursuing other sports or teams.
“It’s kind of upsetting,” Snyder said. “I know them really well. I love all of them. It was obviously really good to end on a win.”
Levick himself said it would be his final game behind the bench as he retires from coaching.
“It was a really special way to end my coaching career. These kids have been together since they were seven years old,” he said. “Talk about a mic drop moment final game.”
Editor's Note, April. 6, 2023: This article was altered to clarify that not all of the team will be splitting apart and moving on, with some going on together to play in U18.