Grade 12 Avon View students Jacob Caldwell and Liam Parker have wrapped up their high school hockey careers, but both say they’re happy with what they’ve accomplished over the past three years.
Both received the Coach’s Award during the Valley High School Hockey League banquet at the Berwick Lions Club on April 5. Players from across the Annapolis Valley were honoured for their hard work from the season.
Seventeen-year-old Jacob Caldwell, a right winger, said receiving the Coach’s Award meant a lot to him.
“You get to accept it in front of the league, it’s definitely a good way to end the whole high school career,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell said he started playing hockey a bit later than most, at the ripe old age of seven.
But why has he stuck with the sport for so long?
“It’s mainly the bond that you create with your teammates and the friends you make from it,” he said. “I know for sure that I wouldn’t have as many friends as I do now without it.”
Caldwell admits that he was a bit surprised when he found out he was receiving the Coach’s Award, saying that the whole team is full of great athletes that would have deserved it.
“It’s been a great three years, and this makes me feel like I accomplished what I tried to do — to do the best I can,” he said.
The Avon View Avalanche boys’ hockey team ended up losing in the playoffs to the Parkview Panthers, but Caldwell said he’s proud of what the team was able to accomplish, even if the season was cut shorter than they would have liked.
“In all three years I’ve been on the team, we’ve had a winning record, we’ve won more games than we’ve lost,” he said. “This year was probably the best year of hockey I did play because we had a great team, and everyone respected each other.”
Seventeen-year-old Liam Parker, a centre for the Avalanche, has been playing hockey for more than nine years. He’s happy with how far he’s come.
“I was honoured. I think that showed that the coaches really appreciated how much work I put in throughout the three years,” Parker said.
“I think Jacob and I are just good with the other guys, we’re always positive, trying to tell them what to do better and not criticize them. Positive criticism instead of just negative.”
Parker said he will be taking an important lesson with him as he wraps up his high school career.
“To be honest, respect,” he said. “There’s a lot of respect that went around, from the coaches, to the teammates. We all respect each other and that went a long way.”
That’s not always the case, he says.
“I’ve played on other teams where the coaches don’t get respected and nobody listens to them, and things just don’t go well,” he said. “When you have a team that listens to your coach, and you bond, and you do stuff together off the ice, it makes a huge difference.”
Parker said he wants to keep hockey in his life in one way or another, potentially trying out for junior hockey in the future.
“I’ll always want to be involved, whether that’s a beer league or something. I want to coach someday.”
Mark Tye, head coach of the Avon View Avalanche, said Caldwell and Parker epitomized sportsmanship and dedication over the past three years.
“Two great players, they’ve both earned their stripes,” Tye said. “They’ve gone through a lot and I’ve seen them grow up from Grade 10 to Grade 12, and now they’re heading out into the world.”
He’s proud of the entire team, he adds.
“We had a really great group of boys this year; our team was as close as we’ve been in years,” he said. “Sometimes that relates to on-ice success and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s really nice to coach when that happens.”
Tye said that although Caldwell and Parker didn’t have letters on their jerseys — neither was a captain or assistant captain this season — they were still big-time leaders of the team.
It didn’t hurt that on-ice, the two were also some of the top players, racking up goals and assists consistently.
Off the ice, Tye said Parker has an awesome laugh and likes to have fun. Caldwell, a bit quieter, likes to hang out with his close friends.
“Both of these guys, the Grade 10s and 11s really look up to them, and they treated them very well,” he said. “They weren’t bringing them down for being rookies, they treated them with respect, and that’s a big part of it.”