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“Bantam’s a different level”

Keegan Dalton of the Pictou County WearWell Major Bantams carries the puck in an exhibition game on Aug. 30.
Keegan Dalton of the Pictou County WearWell Major Bantams carries the puck in an exhibition game on Aug. 30. - Kevin Adshade

The leap into Bantam hockey can be an eye-opener

WESTVILLE ROAD, N.S.

As dozens of Atom and Peewee players took part in his annual ‘Fall Into Hockey’ camp, Jon Sim was asked about the state of his Pictou County WearWell Bantam Bombers.

“Our team should be set by the end of the weekend,” said Sim, the head coach for the Bombers.

“We’ve made some decisions on some kids (and) that’s the hardest part of the year.”

But even if a first year Bantam-aged player fails to crack the Bombers lineup, it doesn’t mean the door is closed forever. At times, they’re better off dropping down to Bantam AA to further refine their game, and develop physically.

“A lot of the kids played Bantam AA last year and they had a lot of success,” Sim said, standing near a bench at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.

“It’s not a bad thing if you don’t make the Major Bantam team as a first-year kid because it’s a second-year league – a big, strong second-year league – and first-year kids really struggle at times. They are new to the hitting, they are new to everything.

“Bantam’s a different level. If you didn’t do anything all summer, you’re going to have a tough year.”

The Major Bantams against The Novas – from Antigonish – on Aug. 30.
The Major Bantams against The Novas – from Antigonish – on Aug. 30.

 

Sim has some big boys on the team, and he and assistant Harry Knoester hope to coach them up on using their size as an asset.

“It’s going to be about the buy-in obviously, learning how to use your body when you’re big. We don’t want guys out there trying to hurt kids, but Bantam can be a level where if you’re big, you can really have an advantage.”

For any young player who has aspirations of playing serious hockey beyond the Midget level, this is when it starts getting more real.

“You play Atom or Peewee AAA every year, but Major Bantam’s a big jump,” Sim said.

“If you can handle the physicality and the commitment level, keep getting better, you’re going to set yourself up for success down the road.”

In a game played Aug. 30 at the Pictou County Wellness Centre, the Bombers trailed Antigonish-based The Novas by a 3-1 margin in the second period, but rallied to pick up a 4-3 win, scoring twice in the final period.

Corey MacGillivary, Lane Lochead, Ben Wallace and Logan Crosby had goals for the Bombers.

The Major Bantams play five more exhibition games, including a four-game tournament in East Hants this coming weekend.

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