To say it was a good year for the Seven Oaks Minor Hockey Association (SOMHA) would be a massive understatement.
Of the 35 SOMHA teams that participated in city-wide playoffs (aged nine and up), nine made it to the city finals — five of which won. Another five SOMHA teams had top-five finishes.
"I’ve been on the board for a number of years and we’ve had some fairly successful seasons in the past, but why this one turned out to be more successful, I’m not entirely sure," said SOMHA first vice-president Jamie Hewitt, who is in charge of A hockey programs at SOMHA.
"A little bit of it is luck I’m sure, but I think it really speaks to the level of commitment we get out of the volunteers on the Seven Oaks Minor Hockey Association board, as well as the coaches and the parents who are buying into a system where we’re trying to develop a love for the game for the players and build on their hockey skills. I think it really comes down to the endless hours of commitment from volunteers, parents and the kids themselves that made this happen."
One of the contributors to SOMHA’s banner year was the Red River Panthers, which captured the 12A2 peewee division by beating its rivals, a Maples SOMHA team, three games to two in a best-of-five series.
"It was fantastic how it worked out that it was the other Seven Oaks team," said Red River coach Mike McIntyre.
"I’ve coached probably 80 per cent of the kids on that team (Maples) at some point over the years, including four kids I coached just last year. It was fun for the kids because a lot of these kids have played together before, a lot of them go to school together and their parents are friends. It was just a really good event."
McIntyre, who is in his eighth year coaching his son, Panthers player Parker McIntyre, and also coaches his nine-year-old daughter Isabella, said this year’s Panthers squad was "the most talented and balanced team," he’s ever coached.
McIntyre said Red River and Maples took advantage of the big crowds of family and friends at the city finals, raising a few hundred dollars for the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation. He said the all-SOMHA final was a perfect ending to the Panthers’ year, which saw the team play about 40 games and run over 40 practices.
"I can’t even imagine the mileage our parents have clocked bringing kids to the rink all year, so it’s nice to get everybody who was there and supporting the team to come on the ice," saidMcIntyre, referring to a monster group photo taken after the big win.
"I know that was a picture everyone really loved. Grandparents, parents, siblings, to have everybody share in the celebration was quite fun."
The following SOMHA teams also made the city finals:
• Garden City Female Novice A2 — Won best-of-three series 2-1;
• Norquay 12A3 — Won best-of-five series 3-1;
• Red River 13A1 — Lost best-of-five series 3-1;
• Garden City 13A2 — Won best-of-five series 3-0;
• Vince Leah 14A1 — Lost best-of-five series 3-0;
• Norquay 14A3 — Won best-of-five series 3-1;
• West Kildonan 16A3 — Lost best-of-five series 3-0.