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Super Weekend of all-female hockey hits ice in Timmins

Timmins' Kevin Walker is in Trenton as an assistant coach at the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge

They bill it as Super Weekends and this past weekend the Timmins and District Girls Hockey Association (TDGHA) hosted a super weekend of games from U11 to U18 at the Whitney arena and the Sportsplex. Teams from Hearst, Kapuskasing, Manitoulin, Temiskaming Shores, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie all took part in the event. 

With girl's leagues in short supply in the north, Super Weekends give northern teams a chance to play best-on-best without having to make trips to the south. It's a fun and ultra-competitive weekend of hockey aiding team and individual development.

Without a doubt, the weekend was a smashing success. Well organized and well supported.

The 50/50 draws gave a chance to spectators to win some early Christmas money while the proceeds were shared by participating teams.

Results of the TDGHA participating teams games were.

The U18 Falcons had wins of 7-0 vs Kap, 2-1 vs Hearst, and 2-1 vs Manitoulin. The team suffered defeats of 5-0 to Temiskaming Shores, 5-2 to Kap and 3-0 to Hearst.

The U15 Falcons had 5-1 and 9-1 wins over Sudbury to go along with a 3-3 tie and 3-2 loss vs Temiskaming Shores.

The U13s had a 3-3 tie and 6-0 loss to Temiskaming Shores, while the U11B Falcons had 8-1 and 2-0 losses to the Soo and 3-1 and 4-0  losses to Sudbury.

The U11C Ravens dropped both their contests against Hearst.

Overall Timmins was five wins, 11 losses and two ties for the weekend.

Each and every game allowed the locals to gauge themselves against varied northern opponents with an eye toward improving upon the results.

Internationally, this year's World Under 17 Hockey Challenge was won in overtime by Canada White. White defeated Team USA in overtime to claim the gold.

In the semis, White beat Sweden 6-1 while the U.S. downed Czechia 5-4.

Sweden collected the bronze with a 6-3 win over Czechia.

At the National Women's U18 Championships Ontario Red won gold with a 3-2 overtime win against Quebec. Since the inception of the championships, Ontario Red has won the gold every year except 2013 when Ontario Blue took gold. Quite the streak.

I had a chance to talk on the phone with Timmins native Kevin Walker as he was on his way with Team NOJHL East to the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge in Trenton. Walker is an assistant coach for the club.

In its opening game on Monday the team dropped a nail-biting 2-1 shootout to CCHL Robinson. The team is right back at it with a game this morning

In the tragic aftermath of the death of Adam Johnson, the discussion on mandatory neck protection has come to the forefront.

Neck guards have been mandatory in minor hockey across Canada for a number of years. The push is now to do the same at the higher levels, including the NHL.

Modern materials and construction methods have transformed bulky, uncomfortable neckguards into sleek and comfortable higher-end models designed for today's game. It in no way hinders a player's performance and could easily be grandfathered into the pros. Any player entering into pro hockey (from junior, college, etc.) would require a neck guard as part of their equipment.

In the late 1980s I met a gentleman whose boy passed on after a skate cut his neck in a game in Quebec. I was shaken when I heard his story. 

That tragedy resulted in Quebec taking the lead in not only usage, but development. The BNQ certification was mandatory for any Hockey Canada-approved neckguard. BNQ was recognized as the ultimate certification system.

A few years ago a Timmins native and good friend designed and patented a neckguard that completely covered the neck. I can't reveal anything about its design because he trusted me with giving my opinion of the design and put him in contact with hockey equipment manufacturers. He presented a prototype to a number of companies. Most thought his product to be very good, but the final answer was always the same, "It just doesn't pass the mirror test."

I just thought people should know that a great guy from Timmins had developed a new approach to neck protection. And that innovation and creativity are as near as our doorsteps.

Maybe a more complete story for another day. We shall see. 

Later skater.

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