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'It was almost surreal': Acadia Bantam AA hockey team wins provincials

The Acadia Axemen Bantam AA team poses for a photo with their provincial championship banner after beating Glace Bay 7-1 in the finals.
The Acadia Axemen Bantam AA team poses for a photo with their provincial championship banner after beating Glace Bay 7-1 in the finals.

Hunter Graham had a feeling back in September that his team would win the provincial title. Michael Best, Graham’s coach, had the same hunch in February. It turns out both their instincts were spot on.

“Every second year I play, my team normally wins a lot,” says 15-year-old Graham, captain of the Acadia Bantam AA team.

“I was pretty excited because I’ve never won provincials before. It was a goal.”

Last weekend, the Acadia Axemen Bantam AA team recorded a historic win. They won seven to one against Glace Bay in the final game of the season - making them the first Acadia minor hockey team in their division to win the Hockey Nova Scotia provincial title.

“For me it was almost surreal,” says Best, the head coach.

“It was emotional, but it was almost like relief, just because you want it so bad for the kids. No one really realizes how much sacrifice and work they put in.”

The game took place in Glace Bay, home of their final rivals. The game brought in an audience of 400 to 500 people.

Graham, who never missed a practice or game, had to watch his team’s win from the sidelines after suffering an arm injury during the semi-finals.

“It was really sucky,” he says. “I really wanted to play … we had an okay team to play in the finals though, so I was confident.”

And they had good reason to be confident.

Best says the team had “a lot of extra practices,” including early mornings and late nights. For a group of 14 to 16-year-old boys, that takes commitment. But, that didn’t stop Graham from reacting to their win like a typical teenager.

 “I was needing a new Instagram picture,” he says with a laugh.

This year, the Acadia Bantam AA team’s success was unsurpassed. Not only did they win the provincial tournament, but the team captured gold at three other tournaments as well.

Graham says knowing he has the best team in the division is “pretty sick.” He hopes to make the Central King’s Rural High School team next year.

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