The finale to the JLMC’s NHL Draft Tournament weekend saw the “Oilers” win the Stanley Cup at Lammas yesterday evening.

On Saturday it was all about the Under 9’s but yesterday it was all about the Under 11’s and with more than 200 people in the rink at Sutton there was a real party atmosphere throughout the day.

All the JLMC Chair, Jaquie Pye, wanted was for the kids to have fun and the evidence from the week-end was that the kids and their parents had a great time. Jaquie said. “Sutton’s rink is perfect for developing our youngest talent and this week-end re-confirmed what I already knew. We need to host more events like this one and we need to do it more often. It’s been fantastic. I am delighted.”

The day started with the JLMC making the “Draft” selections from players who were selected to six “NHL” teams; Bruins, Canucks, Capitals, Flames, Leafs and Oilers. The teams played a series of “league” games and league placings decided the play-off pairings. The play-off’s entered a knock-out stage which resulted in two teams getting to the Final.

The games were played using the 3/4 goals with shifts dictated by the buzzer. Modified U11 rules with officiating carried-out by members of Sutton’s “Young Leader” programme and Managers running their teams on the bench. Level 2 Coaches were also on the bench to provide encouragement, support and feedback to all of the players regardless of the teams they were playing for.

Throughout the day the players development was looked after both on and off the ice. In the huge sports hall at Lammas the players were involved in skills tuition and mini-games and not just hockey but even a modified basketball game involving some rather enthusiastic mums and dads too.

But in the end the event was wrapped-up with a thrilling final which after two periods saw the Oilers and Canucks locked at 2-2. And even though a full period of overtime was played, there was no deciding goal and so the game went to penalty shots. With four net-minders seeing plenty of rubber, the game went down to the 12th penalty shot which the Oilers netted to win the game 3 goals to 2.

Presenting the “Stanley Cup” to the Oilers Jacquie was full of praise for both teams who played their hearts out.

After the game Jaquie Pye reflected on the help and support from a group of parents who rolled-up their sleeves and got involved together, and said. “Today was obviously about the kids, but I’m so pleased that parents got involved to help us make this event so special. I am really happy that everyone has enjoyed the two tournaments here at Sutton.” She added. “But we’ve also seen a handful of U15 and U18 players from Sutton’s Young Leader programme who have worked tirelessly either on the ice or in the sports hall helping our youngest players with their game. I want us to find a way to get more of our older kids involved in supporting the grassroots and this Young Leader programme might just be something we take a closer look at?”

The JLMC is nearing the end of it’s first year looking after Junior Ice Hockey and Jacquie is already planning more development events just like the NHL Draft Tournament. “I want to help Clubs host these kind of events regularly so that kids get more development opportunities. I know we have the league and that’s important for Clubs. But these events are also important and if Clubs can come together and work closer together then we will produce players with more talent and a better understanding of the game and teamwork”