It’s not often that a team from the Scarborough Hockey Association defeats a squad from the Greater Toronto Hockey League or Mississauga Hockey League.
However, the peewee West Hill Golden Hawks have done just that, to earn a chance to represent Scarborough in the Ontario Hockey Federation’s provincial championships next month in Mississauga.
Undefeated, with a first place record of (40-0-2) in the SHA this season, the Hawks, aged 12 and 13, had a remarkable performance against the GTA’s highest ranked teams, at this year’s Metro A playdowns in January.
“We played hard and everything just seemed to go our way,” says head coach and West Hill native John McClyment.
There, the Golden Hawks defeated the GTHL’s Hillcrest Summit (2-0) and Vaughan Rangers (4-2), as well as the MHL’s Applewood Coyotes (5-2).
It was a rather amazing feat, considering the SHA’s smaller size in comparison with the other two leagues usually makes them an underdog.
However, coach McClyment is confident in his boys, and feels they simply need to take one game at a time.
“We expect tough competition at the provincials,” McClyment says. “But we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
The coach, in his fifth year with the Hawks points to his team’s immediate future in the SHA playoffs, and their ongoing quest for a third-straight Scarborough championship.
“We need to keep practicing hard, and worry about winning our playoff games first,” McClyment says.
The Golden Hawks did just that Monday evening, eliminating the SHA’s second place Cedar Hill Rebels at Don Montgomery Arena in Scarborough. West Hill won 4-1, in a convincing fashion, with the majority of the game being spent in the offensive zone.
McClyment says his team has not developed any kind of overblown ego.
“We have actually had lots of tough wins during our regular season, and we’ve lost games at tournaments, so no, it’s just about going out there and having fun.”
According to their coach, the key to the Hawks has been a balanced attack, and a “good dressing room”. There have been a few changes over the four years, but McClyment believes a basic core of players has remained, including three from his first season with West Hill, one of these being his son Conner.
“We try to teach passing and skating, rather than focusing on scoring,” McClyment says. “It sounds cliché, but winning really comes down to solid teamwork.”
The Golden Hawks should finish their SHA playoff run just in time to head off to Mississauga in April.
They will challenge teams from the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association, and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association to crown 2008’s Ontario single A Peewee champion.