Observations From Around the Rink – Tony Montana

Posted on January 29, 2023

Spent my Saturday dodging around the Conception Bay South getting my first live taste of U15AAA Male hockey this weekend – here are my takes!

Disclaimer *** I understand that I write about AAA hockey a lot, but it’s because it’s the world I spend the most time in. With my job with the QMJHL having me in U18AAA rinks, to my previous coaching experience with the U15 and U13 Hitmen, it’s just where I am most times. There is lots of tremendous hockey at every level across the province and I am aware of that.

Point #1 – The Robert French Stadium has not gotten any warmer in my 30 years of visiting there. I contemplated doing some jumping jacks to get the blood flowing, but I decided not to make a spectacle in the bleachers. The signage near the scoreboard is worth the price of admission though – NL Sports Hall of Fame quality. I wonder if anyone has been inspired to bring their textbooks to the arena to listen to the “don’t worry dad I’ll study between periods” sign.

Point #2 – Anthony Hurley went ‘Tony Mode’ nuclear on Saturday. The last performance out of a ‘Tony’ that I have seen dates back to my love for the Movie ‘Scarface’. Anthony Hurley was dominant on this day, posting a hatty vs TriCom (1 SHG) and a single just 3 hours later vs the Hitmen. Hurley is an excellent skater and has nice hands. Say hello to my little friend!

Hurley on Saturday – minus the M19. VHG does not agree with the 2nd amendment either, in case you’re wondering

Don’t look now, but the U15AAA Central ‘Pak are heating up just before the playoffs. The ‘Pak roughed up the Thunder 8-4, and dumped the top-seeded Hitmen 5-2 to sit 9-13-1 on the season (as of this writing). One could debate that the Hurley-Ingram-Pittman line of Central is the best line in U15 hockey right now, and it would be hard to vote against them after what I saw yesterday in CBS. Kagan ‘don’t call me Sam’ Hounsell has really come on recently, potting a pair and showcasing the dominant side of his game that the U13AAA circuit saw last season.

Point #3 – It would be great to see the 3 city teams in AAA adopted across U15 and U18 Male. I really liked the 3 city team concept from the get-go in U13, and I think it would work if adopted in the older divisions as well. I think that it could even go a step further, where it creates a AAA feeder system. Hitmen filters into the Growlers, Thunder into Blizzard, and Knights into… ? I think that there are a lot of really cool things that could be done with this – teams might not be as competitive in mainland events, but I think that it would be great for individual player development here in the city and help delay the ‘development funnel’ at the ages where players are going through massive changes to their bodies.

Point #4 – How traditional the styles of play from all the U15AAA teams is. Watching all 4 teams play this past weekend, I did not see anyone doing any new-age ‘stuff’. Not saying it’s a bad thing, but all teams elected to keep their D on the blue line, wingers coming back deep in the D zone, standard PP breakout systems, and so on. Again, not saying it was a bad thing but I was hoping to see some uniqueness I guess. Maybe teams are saving some systematic ‘wrinkles’ for playoff time – who knows. I’ll be watching.

Until Next time