By: Danny May
It was a history-making season for the “Puck Hogs” (the Owensboro Youth Hockey Association’s 11 and 12-year-old Pee-Wee traveling team) who were regional champions and International Finalists in the Silver Stick Tournament. Owensboro Parent sat down with their very excited coach, Roy Henry, to get the story behind the headlines.
OP: Tell us about Owensboro Youth Hockey Association.
Coach Roy: Here’s how it works; there’s an in-house league at the Edge that practices once a week and plays one game a week. Then the best of those players get invited to play for the traveling team, the Puck Hogs. The 7 through 8-year-olds are called “Mites,” 9-10s are called “Squirts,” 11-12s are “Pee-Wee,” and the 13-14s are “Bantum.” The high school age team is called the “Rampage.”
OP: What do you think made this team so special?
Coach Roy: We finished 18-0 in the regular season. But the thing about it is the success of the whole team depends on how much the secondary players develop. It was a team effort and they listened and grasped what we (the coaches) were telling them. And it was a great group of parents too.
OP: So how did you get to go to Canada?
Coach Roy: We won the south regional qualifier in Huntsville Alabama, which made us one of 16 teams who made it to the International Silver Stick Tournament in Ontario Canada. Silver Stick is the equivalent of the world series of hockey. At Silver Stick every team plays each other round robin and then they separate you into A and B tiers. In the quarterfinal game we scored with 40 seconds left to win! And the final game we were in it till the very end. It was a heartbreaker. But, after the game was over the organizer of the tournament stuck his head in our locker room and told the guys that there shouldn’t be any tears in our eyes because we made history. And he’s right. No Kentucky team ever made it as far as we did. No Kentucky team ever beat a Canadian team before. And no Kentucky team ever shut out a Canadian team before.
OP: What was the most exciting thing about Silver Stick for you?
Coach Roy: Taking these kids to Canada was one of the most gratifying things of my life. We went to the Hockey Hall of Fame and saw the Stanley Cup. We took a team picture at Niagara Falls. But it’s the whole experience of going further than anyone expected. I think accomplishing something like that and gaining confidence at an early age will only help them down the road.
OP: Sounds like hockey is getting more popular in Owensboro.
Coach Roy: A lot of that has to do with the new Edge Ice Center. It’s a positive place for kids to hang out. Parents can sit in the bleachers and cheer for their kids at practice and games. I honestly believe it’s part of our success. I don’t think we’d be where we’re at if we still had that old rink.