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U15 Trappers guided to gold by an Angel wearing 71

A season that started with a memorial service ends in a NOHA championship
2022 03 21 U15 Trappers
U15 AAA Trappers. Photo submitted.

Bryden Shank, got a favourable bounce in the slot which allowed him to put away what was the championship-winning goal for the North Bay Dave's Heating and Cooling U15 AAA Trappers as they edged the Soo Greyhounds 3-2.  

Some players and parents believe, that bounce had some divine hockey intervention by someone who wore Trappers #71. 

"He was definitely there," said Marc Long, whose son Briir assisted on that game-winner. 

"The pass came off the wall in Briir's feet, he turned his skate and it went back door to Shank. We never get that bounce." 

Yes, the championship win means a lot more for this Trappers team which lost one of its players in the fall of 2020 when 13-year-old Noah Dugas passed away in November of that year.  

Their season started with a memorable and emotional tribute where his number 71 jersey was retired by the Trappers AAA Association and North Bay Trappers Minor Hockey Association on October 23.  Goaltender Jackson Curran had his mask painted with a picture of Noah on its side. 

"After the ceremony game at the beginning we really did not bring it up, we did not talk about it because the family wanted some closure on it and I think the team needed that too," noted head coach Scott Huycke.  

"I was going to bring it up on Sunday but then I got the text from them and it was much better than anything I could have come up with. It was the only time we really outwardly talked about it, and it was a perfect time."

Perfect time indeed. 

Jody Dugas, Noah's mom, sent an inspiring pre-game message for the team which Huycke read out to his players two hours before game time at Countryside Arena in Sudbury Sunday afternoon. 

​"I would just like to say something, you can share it or not but I will feel better knowing I just said it," Jody stated in the heartfelt message. 

"Noah taught us many things but one thing that is important I think for today is to live in the moment! I thought what does that mean in hockey?
It means that the past/yesterday is gone, the lose/win the missed shot or pass, the standings… The future no one knows or can control but what you can control are your moments!!! The moment you step on the ice, you give 100 per cent to that moment (“do the things the team needs from me”) and if you make a mistake that’s ok cause you have another moment, just do the best you can, leave it all on the ice.

"No matter what happens we are so proud of this team, coaches, parents, they are a wonderful group of people!

"Noah wrote down a few days before he passed: 'I say never give up no matter what!!!!!! We wish we could be there but we will be watching and cheering you guys on!'"

See related: Community gathers at the rink to honour Noah Dugas

See related: Young goalie pays tribute to Noah Dugas 

The message helped inspired the resilient Trappers group as they went on to that 3-2 win thanks to goals by Shank, Hudson Prisco-Duquette and Briir Long.

The championship took another level of emotion during the medal ceremony when the announcer called for Trappers #71 to come up and receive his gold medal.  The tear-inspiring idea came from head coach Scott Huycke.

"​When we won it on Sunday I had asked the commissioner of the league that during the presentation I wanted that extra medal and I wanted Noah's number and name announced at the end and so we did, and that medal will be delivered to his family this week and that's all I can say about that," said Huycke. 

Jody was humbled by the medal. 

"Yes what an exciting and emotional game," she said.  

"A rematch from the NOHA finals of two years ago that the boys were not able to play because of COVID-19. Our message to them was simply to enjoy the moment, no matter the outcome we are so proud of them. This is a very special group that will always have Noah looking out for them. This NOHA championship was all their hard work, dedication and heart put into the sport they love.

"The presentation of the medal to Noah was very thoughtful and emotional for us. We know Noah was there cheering his teammates on!! We thank Aaron Duquette for live streaming all the games this year so we can always feel a part of this team," she said. 

Now Huycke and the Trappers will hope #71 will make the journey south with them when the team heads for the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) U15 AAA championships which take place in Elgin-Middlesex near London.  

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Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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