Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers are tops again in the Surrey High School Hockey League.
Jacob Dorohoy scored in overtime to give the Panthers a 2-1 win over Earl Marriott Mariners last Thursday (March 12) at South Surrey Arena.
The victory gave Tweedsmuir its sixth Zwick Cup over the past seven seasons.
Coach Sheldon Bailey credits Cloverdale’s “hotbed of hockey” for his team’s success in recent years.
“Hockey is in the culture in the community, and we as a school also have a really strong athletic culture, and our kids buy in,” Bailey said.
“We get a lot of the top talent at our school buying in and wanting to be on the team,” he added. “So we target some of the better players early, those in Grades 8 and 9, and we like to bring them in and by the time they’re in Grade 11 and 12, they’re senior and they’re in leadership roles, fully in and carrying the team.
“We often get around 50 kids trying out for the team, so it’s a tough balance of including the older (students) but also some of the younger ones.”
The non-contact league, relaunched in the early 2000s after a period of inactivity, is designed for students to play hockey “in a stress-free, fun environment and with friends they would usually not have the opportunity to play with,” according to a post at surrey.ca.
Games are played from early October until mid-March, and the number of teams in the league varies from season to season, but usually it’s around 10 squads, Bailey said.
“This is just for Surrey schools, so it’s pretty unique that way,” he said. “The players get a chance to play for their school, so it’s different than what they can do in their hockey clubs. It’s about school pride.”
Adding more teams to the league would be ideal, he added.
“We’d like to get more buy-in from the other schools, to get more competition going, for sure,” Bailey said. “A school like Salish is just starting to get their program underway and they’re in this Cloverdale hotbed with us, and also Clayton Heights. Having more rivalries like that will be good, too.”
Players on the Tweedsmuir roster this year were Gavin Bains, Tyler Bleha, Tyson Corkish, Trevor Damon, Tanner Dawkins, Jacob Dorohoy, Mitchell Durante, Matt Faubert, Jonny Harrison, Matthew Jung, Noah Landen, Devin Lambert, Connor Luft, Andrew Petruk, Jayden Salmon, Gavin Seath, Max Skinner, Travis Smythe, Jonathan Soares, Matteo Sjoberg, Owen Thibodeau, Sam Wasmuth, Matthew Wise, Brynn Zashley, Alex Thorton, Kaden Morson, Brett Bateman and Nolan Seath. The other coaches were Adam Kavanagh and Jarrett Zentner.
Bailey played in the Surrey High School Hockey League in 2002 on the Fraser Heights team that won the championship.
“It’s nice to be able to come back and coach in the league now,” he said. “There’s been a few powerhouses over the years – Fraser Heights and Fleetwood, and it goes in cycles for who gets to take the trophy home, and right now it’s us.”
Bailey won the Zwick Cup once as a player, twice as a student-teacher at North Surrey Secondary and six times at Tweedsmuir, he said.
“I’ve been really fortunate that way.”