Two young local hockey players, who have been described as amazing athletes by their families and friends, have been scouted for Team Ontario to represent the province in the 2019 Canada Winter Games. They received the invite just after Christmas.
North Central Predators players Connor Punnet #62 from Huntsville/Powassan and Cole Patey #98 from Utterson, along with teammate Ethan Larmand from Midland, will travel to Toronto to take part in a three-day hockey camp starting February 11 where they will meet other members of Team Ontario and participate in team practices and meetings, team bonding and team training workouts.
The team will then fly to Red Deer, Alberta where they will check in to the athletes’ village. Opening ceremonies are on February 15 and the Winter Games run from February 16 to March 3, with hockey games being played February 16-22.
Connor Punnett, 15 years old and in grade 10, has lived in Huntsville for the last three years and grew up in Powassan where he began playing for the Powassan Hawks at age four. He now plays as a defenseman for the North Central Predators Minor Midget AAA Team.
He is excited and honoured to have made Team Ontario. “It gives me the opportunity to play with some of the best U16 players in Ontario and compete with the best U16 players across Canada on a National stage while representing Ontario,” he said.
Punnett plays hockey because he loves the game and “how fast and exciting it is. My advice for young kids would be work hard, have fun and be a good teammate!”
He was thrilled to play two games of Junior A in his hometown Powassan this year and hopes to win the OMHA championships this season and go to the OHL cup with his teammates.
Cole Patey #98, also 15 and in grade 10, is a forward and the captain of the North Central Predators. He started skating at the age of six when he joined the Huntsville Otters Timbits program and moved to the Predators Minor Peewee team at 11.
“I play hockey because I love it, all of it,” said Patey. “Games, practices, hanging out with the guys on my team. It’s just a lot of fun. My advice to young players is to work hard and always have a lot fun.”
Patey adds that it meant a lot to be voted as captain by his teammates this year and cited the team’s bronze at the OMHA championships last year, as well as hosting the Ontario Hockey Federation championships when the province’s best teams in Ontario competed at the Predators home rink in Orillia, as highlights.
Patey’s goal for the end of this season is to be drafted to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for next season, and he too is looking forward to representing his hometown, team, province and family at the Canada Winter Games. “I’m proud and honoured to play for Team Ontario… I can’t wait to get to camp, meet the team and get going.”
Predators coach, Andrew Morris, said, “It is always an incredible accomplishment to be selected to represent your province in an event such as the Canada Winter Games.”
Punnett and Patey will be among 3,600 athletes who are considered to be “Canada’s next generation of national, international and Olympic champions” according to Games organizers.
There they will be able to play the sport that they both love as they work hard and strive to be good teammates while being fierce competitors on the ice.
The Canada Winter Games are held every four years. Team Ontario will be the defending men’s hockey champions—the 2015 team defeated Team Alberta four years ago in Prince George, BC. For more information about the Canada Winter Games, visit canadagames.ca.
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