The last time the varsity boys hockey team was on the bus for a road trip was in March of 2020 for the NISIC National Championship. This past weekend the team made the same trip to Upper Canada College and came away with three wins vs UCC (2-1), St. Michaels College School (6-1) and Ridley College (3-2).
As I have documented here before, our team has been extremely fortunate to receive the fan support from students, teachers and the Stanstead College family here at the Pat Burns Arena, but I would be lying to say that it was not nice to get back on the bus and back on the road. There is a certain simplicity and singularity to being a team on the road that makes things different and fun. It is always enjoyable to have a team meal, an outing and to just sit back and listen on the bus as kids enjoy each other’s company and humour.
Always selfishly for me, trips to Toronto are trips home, and with a few extra Greater Toronto boys on the team this year, the weekend had a little bit of that homecoming feel for a few more than just me. Grade 11 forward Jack Treacy from nearby Stouffville, Ontario likely had the lead in fan support with little brother Mick being sure to get a fist bump from everyone before and after every period! Clearly Mick’s bumps gave us some good luck and he is welcomed back anytime!
Road trips without a doubt help bring teams together. As coaches we look at different things to do as a team early in the year that will help accomplish this feeling, but in the end there really is truth to just getting on the road and being a team 24 hours a day. It was clear on the bus ride to and from that the enjoyment of “normal” was there… Maybe after a few trips down the 401 the novelty will wear off a bit, but I really do believe that the last year and a half have helped to create a true appreciation of the little things that were taken away.
Two of our players from last year, Jeremy and Jacob Bigras (who now play Jr. A hockey for the Toronto Jr. Canadians) came out to see the team play, and, to sum up the conversation, they talked about how when they saw the bus in the parking lot, the hockey bags in the hallway and the boys on the ice, it really hit home how much they wished their year at Stanstead College could have had that as well.
As a coach and a teacher, I was very proud to see the comportment of the group, many of whom were travelling as Spartans for the first time, but it is clear that the institutional memory about what it means to be a Stanstead College student, representing your school on the road, is clear. The uniforms were crisp, and the respect for those helping us at the hotel, restaurant and arena was evident. It would be this last paragraph that would make myself and Coach Vanasse most proud.