Recently we held the Tier 1 2013-2014 (midget A hockey) male championship tournament at the Eastern Kings Sportsplex March 21-23.
Normally you hear about all nasty things that happen through hockey, but we were left with a heartfelt memory at our tournament. I've never seen such class from the O'Leary Maroons players/parents. They left gratitude, appreciation and most of all friendship with our kids.
There was one young fellow who stood out - the goalie Ryan DesRoche. After going into the crossover with Montague, the teams went into a shootout. This young goalie did everything but stand on his head, and let one slide by him to lose 3-2.
When finishing, he didn't get upset, but he comes right out and cheered the players from the other team.
He left so many emotions in the stands, which is still the talk of Kings County.
Souris Sea Hawks were the champs and Montague Norsemen 1 were the runners up. But we felt that we were all winners that day.
A parent wrote a note to me from the Montague team on behalf of her team:
"First off, I can't say how many times during the course of the game that we commented on what an amazing goalie that young man was. He was pummeled with shots... He was like a fortress. I wasn't 100 per cent confident our boys could break through it in the overtime period.
"My point: he wanted to win as badly as everyone else. So when we scored, I was waiting to see him do the typical smash the stick on the ice/net and show some frustration, but instead, when he went to stop the final goal and missed, he ended up lying on the ice. He took a couple of seconds and then got up and skated over to each of our boys (Ryan was one of the them) that was on the ice for the winning goal and shook their hands.
"Even writing this, I get choked up.
"It is a great reminder to all of us parents, players, coaches, referees, etc., that this is a 'game.' Sometimes we win; sometimes we lose. Behind the masks are kids who we spend a great deal of time teaching how to win and not near enough time teaching how to lose graciously.
"Too often in Island rinks you see the win-at-all-costs mentality and if the other guys are winning 'make them suffer.' We have boys playing from novice to midget and you see it in all levels. This young man taught us all a valuable lesson that I'll never forget. Souris and Montague may have gone home with the medals but O'Leary left that rink with more respect and admiration than any team I've seen before - all because of the actions of one young man and his team!
"And Souris did a great job of hosting."