Nine Hants West hockey players selected for prestigious program

Dan Boyd
Published on August 19, 2014

Nine local hockey players were recently named to the Hockey Nova Scotia High Performance program. Pictured are, from left, Kenzie Cecchetto, Maggie Burbidge, Bailey Peach, Damian Hartt, Joe MacDonald, Savannah Hartt, and Jenna Leighton. Missing from the photo are Brianna Hill and her sister Tiffany Hill.  (Submitted photo)

Whether players dream of becoming Brad Marchand and scoring to give Canada a gold medal in World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, or Marie Philip-Poulin who scored two late goals in Sochi to give the Canadian women's team another Olympic gold medal, they must start somewhere.

For nine boys and girls in Hants West, their minor hockey careers were given a significant boost after participating in Hockey Nova Scotia's High Performance Select camps this summer. They graduated from the camp program and have been given the opportunity to play on Nova Scotia's high performance level teams.

Nova Scotia's High Performance Program selects the top players, coaches, trainers and officials from throughout the province. Each season, Hockey Nova Scotia invites players and officials to participate in the program.

The local youths that were selected this season include: Maggie Burbidge, Kenzie Cecchetto, Savannah Hartt, Brianna Hill, Tiffany Hill, Jenna Leighton, Damian Hartt, Joe MacDonald, and Bailey Peach.


The girls

Falmouth's Maggie Burbidge and Brianna Hill, who attended King’s-Edgehill School last season, were both named to Nova Scotia's High Performance under 18 girls team.  

Burbidge, the daughter of Jeff and Alana Burbidge, played on the U.S./Canada Selects team which took part in the World Invitational Tournament in April of this year in Sweden and Finland.

Hill's younger sister, Tiffany, who also attends KES, Kenzie Cecchetto, from Brooklyn, Savannah Hartt, from Newport Station, and Jenna Leighton, from Falmouth, were named to the province's High Performance under 15 team.

The U15 girls team will compete at the Atlantic Challenge Cup tournament hosted in Moncton this October.

Leighton, the daughter of Jamie and Christina Leighton, hopes to one day play NCAA or CIS hockey. She played with the Valley Wild Peewee AA girls hockey team this past winter and will try out for the Valley Wild Bantam AA girls hockey team this September. For the past four years, she has played for the NS Raiders AAA girls team during the spring, travelling to tournaments in Atlantic Canada as well as throughout New England. For the past five summers, she has been selected to play for the Atlantic Selects AAA girls program. Later this month, she will head out with that team to compete in the Queen of the Rings Hockey Tournament.

Fourteen-year-old Cecchetto, the daughter of Mike and Julia Cecchetto, started out playing hockey at the West Hants Minor Hockey Association’s skills level. For the past three years, she has played on the Andrews Hockey-Atlantic Female Training Institute’s team in Prince Edward Island. Cecchetto will enter Grade 9 at King’s-Edgehill School this September and will begin playing North American prep school hockey, along with the Hill sisters.

Hartt, the daughter of Randy and Tracy Hartt, has been playing hockey since she was three years old and is thrilled for the chance to play on a high performance team.

"I am honoured to play for the U15 Nova Scotia hockey girls and continue to work hard under the training of Greg Wile,” she said in an interview.

She has played top level minor hockey in West Hants as well as on the boys Western Valley PeeWee AAA team. She played with the Valley Wild Bantam AA girls hockey team this past season and will try out to play with them again this September.

Hartt has played in many Eastern Canadian tournaments and has also been invited to play in the Queen of the Rings Hockey Tournament, in Ontario.

She also played spring hockey for the Acadia Axemen and the N.S. Selects.


The boys

Joe MacDonald, of Brooklyn, is one of the best goaltenders to come out of the Windsor-West Hants area in decades. MacDonald has played spring hockey for the past four years in Halifax to go along with playing hockey in the Valley during the winter months. He has periodically played for the New Brunswick Express, attending various tournaments throughout New England as well as in Montreal and Toronto.

For the last four years, MacDonald has attended goalie camp at Canadian Hockey Enterprises in Peterborough, O.N. under the instruction of Peterborough Petes’ goalie coach Andrew Verner. In the coming weeks, MacDonald will be working with the Tampa Bay Lightening's goalie coach Frantz Jean in Moncton.

MacDonald is hoping to make the AAA Valley Major Bantam Wildcats this winter.  

Damian Hartt, originally of Ellershouse, has been playing hockey since he was three years old. He is the son of Angela and Vernon Hartt and has loved the game since he was little.

Hartt played minor hockey with West Hants for four years and AAA hockey with Acadia for four years. During that time, he, Burbidge, Bailey Peach, the third player to be named to the Nova Scotia Boys Under 14 team, and MacDonald won a provincial championship.

He has also won many other tournaments with Acadia AAA hockey as well as his spring team, the Nova Scotia Prospects.

Damian now resides in Lower Sackville where he has been offered a defense position with the Newbridge Major Bantam Senators.

Peach, of Falmouth, attends the Newbridge Academy in Sackville where he has been enrolled in the advanced hockey program for the past two years.

He suffered a setback in 2010 when he fractured his leg but bounced back to play AAA Acadia Minor Hockey for the next three seasons, winning a provincial championship in the process.

"I simply want to thank all the people who have helped me grow as a player and a person over the past 10 years,” said Peach, giving a special shout-out to his grandparents Stephen and Joyce Rogers, of Scotch Village, and Raymond Peach and Donna Hunt, of Falmouth.