Main photo: The Huntsville MBRP Major Midget Otters celebrate their provincial championship win (back row from left) trainer Al East, head coach Jason Farnsworth, Wesley Farnsworth, Chris Locke, Nathan Markle, Dylan Lawrence, Colin Hungerford, Josh Cormier, Adam Dupuis, Alan East, trainer Taylor Fawcett; (front row from left) Gage Fisher, Cam Aben, Colin Jones, Nick Coleman, Tysen Robb, Graeme MacDougall, Josh Degazio, assistant coach Todd Jones, manager Amanda Jones; (kneeling to right of banner) Josh Lawson, Kieryn Morrison, and Braiden Jones (supplied)
The Huntsville MBRP Major Midget Otters are the 2018-19 OMHA (Ontario Minor Hockey Association) champions!
The Otters defeated the Mount Brydges Cougars in London in game four of the championship series on March 24. Huntsville outplayed their skilled opponents and fought for the win. With a definitive final score of 4-2 score, it’s clear the Otters wanted it more.
The Major Midgets are a solid team, one that many of the players describe as a family. It was the close bond that the team built over the season that benefitted them on their journey to the OMHA win. They worked through ups and downs but came through strong together.
Head coach Jason Farnsworth said, “They bought into what we were trying to instill and began putting the team first and playing a well-disciplined style of hockey. My philosophy has always been to work hard and work as a team and good things will come. If you give 110 per cent in training, practices and games and hit the ice with a team mentality, you will see success. The boys showed how well this worked for them.”
The Otters went into the championship series with a more than three-month winning streak, one that the Mount Brydges Cougars broke in game two of the series with just a single goal in the last minute of play. That 1-0 win over the Otters was the only one they’d get.
Knowing that the Cougars were a strong team of third year players, the Otters stepped into their opponents’ barn to take the win for the final two most important games.
“Those games were something else to watch—they had to be two of the most exciting hockey games I have witnessed,” said Farnsworth.
Mount Brydges played straight win games, never losing a home game. The Otters ended that streak after winning both home games in front of a very Cougar-supportive crowd. “The games were full of end-to-end rushes, shots at both ends of the rink, hard hits and battles from the moment the puck was dropped. My boys prevailed by outworking them for six periods of hockey over the two days,” Farnsworth added.
Some of the Otters shared the team’s mindset going into game four. Chris Locke #14 said the Otters were “zoned in from start to finish.” Nathan Markle #16 mentioned that many of the boys realized it was their last shot to win it all, so “we all stepped up and came to play every game like it was our last, for some players it was.”
The Major team’s coaching staff and trainers kept all of their players positive on and off the ice while keeping the team focused on their end game goal—winning the OMHA championship. Nick Coleman #4, a third year player, said he always thought the team was good and he wasn’t sure if they’d have what it took to win it all, but with the coaches’ push for the team to work hard, the team connected and would do what it took to win.
“The success of this team in this final round and throughout the season was due to its depth—we had outstanding goal tending, three solid lines and D pairs. We did not rely on a handful of superstars, instead we relied on each other as a team and every player dug down and gave me everything they had and that is why we ended our season with the red hats,” said Farnsworth.
Assistant coach Todd Jones said that when the Otters scored the fourth goal, he and the team knew that their two-goal lead put their dreams of winning the red hat and title of OMHA champs so close that they could taste it. Playing smart and playing their own high-skilled game is what made the dream come to a reality. It was definitely well earned and deserved.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group, their growth throughout the season, the effort they gave and the team work they displayed,” said Farnsworth.
It was a memorable win for all of the players, and particularly for 10 third-year players who are moving on to a new chapter to either pursue future careers or vying for a spot on the Junior C Otters hometown team.
“It is sad to say goodbye to over half of this year’s team as they have aged out, this is a very emotional time for families, players and coaches,” added Farnsworth.
Farnsworth emphasized that all of the players were equally important members of the team this year. He is a huge ‘team guy’—his whole coaching philosophy is team-first and he does not encourage or reward individual motivations or mindsets in any way.
Braiden Jones #15 described Farnsworth as an amazing and one-of-a-kind coach as he worked the team hard and awarded them when it was fully deserved.
The 2018-2019 included two first-year players—Tysen Robb and Wesley Farnsworth—who have both played on a team led by coach Farnsworth since the Tyke level and have won four red hats with him (Atom AE, PeeWee AE, PeeWee Rep, Major Midget).
Six of the players are in their second year with the team—Nathan Markle and Alan East who have won two OMHA championships with Farnsworth (Atom AE, Major Midget); Josh Cormier who has also won two OMHA championships with Farnsworth (PeeWee AE, Major Midget); and Adam Dupuis, Graeme MacDougall, and Colin Hungerford who both experienced an OMHA championship for the first time this season.
For the ten third-year players—Gage Fisher, Josh Lawson, Nick Coleman, Kieryn Morrison, Josh Degazio, Cam Aben, Dylan Lawrence, Chris Locke, Braiden Jones, and Colin Jones—this was their first year playing under Farnsworth’s leadership and the first OMHA championship win for all of them. What a way to finish their minor hockey careers!
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