This Week’s Warriors – An interview with the new team captain
Austen Hoey - Special to The Bulletin
With the season fast approaching, this week I decided to sit down with newly appointed Captain of the Sioux North High School boys Warriors hockey team, Ben Lavoie, to discuss this season and how this year’s version of the squad contrasts with last years.
How old are you, what grade are you in, and how many years have you played for the Warriors?
17, grade 12, and this will be my 3rd year playing for the Warriors.
This year’s team will have a much different look from last years, what do you think are the biggest contrasts between last years and this year’s teams?
This year, we are a lot younger. Last year the core players were almost all in Grade 12 or in their 5th year of High School, as well, last year we had the luxury of having a lot of high end skilled players, and a lot of other guys were able to elevate their game playing alongside some of those players. This year, it will have to be much more of a group effort, rather than relying on 1-2 lines in any given game. This year it will have to be a more balanced attack. It’s also a benefit because with this younger group of guys, we have the opportunity to build a culture and a system that will work from the ground up, forming a really great foundation for this year and future years.
Building off of that, what do you think this year’s team’s biggest strengths are?
Everyone is really fast, and everyone is really big. For being a relatively young team, we have some really big boys out there, who also aren’t afraid to lay the body, and separate the puck from players. The attitude also seems to be quite positive, everyone feels like their working together towards our end goal.
With this team being a bit younger and maybe inexperienced, in terms of higher end competitive hockey, what are some potential issues you guys may have to work through this season?
Definitely inexperience, it’s just a completely different game playing in places like Fort or Kenora, something that a lot of the guys haven’t really experienced, so it will be a shock for sure. Also, while we might be big, there are a lot of big boys on those other teams and it’ll be important that the younger, smaller guys get a taste of some real physicality and learn to play through it. It’s one thing to expect it and know it’s coming, and a completely different thing to be able to play your best when you always have to be making sure some guy isn’t going to run you through the boards.
Obviously, Sioux North is the current back to back NorWOSSA gold medalists in hockey. Have you kept up to date with some of the other squads, and if so, who do you think stands the best chance at dethroning Sioux North this season?
Fort is always going to be good. They have such a history of excellence in hockey, so they will be a team to watch, and from what I hear, TA will be returning almost the exact same roster as last year, so they will be a challenge as well, but honestly, in this league, anyone can beat anyone on any night. So we are going to be sure to respect any team we play against.
Finally, what are your expectations or predictions for this season?
I think, like I said earlier, we have a lot of potential and raw talent, if we can harness that for good, and get all 27 of us to buy in, there's no reason why we can’t win again. I have confidence in this group. We have a lot of good players in that dressing room, and we have a sort of next man up mentality, where anyone can step into a role and perform. So I’d have to say expectations are conservatively high.
Please note that the pre-season series vs Red Lake on November 2nd has been moved to the Sioux Lookout Memorial Arena. Game times are still the same, 12 P.M. and 2:30 P.M.