By Doug Kennedy
The OHF has turned down the PJHL’s request to increase the maximum age of players in their league up one year, to 22, for one season, to let the kids that would have had one more year, play in the coming season. They said it would go against the Hockey Canada decision that no age changes would happen because of the pandemic.
One year ago this week, the finals were getting started in the North Conference division that I manage. Alliston won the first game in Stayner in the Carruthers division. In the other Pollock division final, Mount Forest and Wingham split the first two games.
Being with the Bulldogs for 25 years, I know how tough it is to build a winner, so I feel bad for the four teams that could not finish the season. The Wingham Ironmen looked like the better team in those two games and they also had the best goalie, which usually has a lot to do with the outcome. But as we know, a lot of things can decide the series before it is over.
One of the main reasons the Wingham Ironmen have been successful the last few years, is the coaching and recruiting skills of local resident, Cory Hamilton.
Hamilton played his minor hockey in Lucknow. I signed him as a 16-year-old for the Kincardine Bulldogs, but unfortunately he had a few injuries and ended up not playing much that winter.
As a 17-year-old, he played with the Wingham Ironmen, who won the league and lost in the Schmaltz Cup semi-finals.
After that, Hamilton went to University in Windsor and signed with the Essex 73s. Essex has had a strong team for over 40 years. He had three more trips to the Schmaltz Cup semi-finals in the next three years. In his third year in Essex, he won a Schmaltz Cup championship. That team had a 59-1-1 record. What a great way to end your junior career.
Hamilton’s coaching career started with the Huron Perth Lakers AAA team, where he teamed up with local resident Dustin Catto. After that, he was an assistant coach for the Walkerton Hawks, when they won a league championship. The next season, he helped with the Wingham Ironmen, who won the Pollock division that year.
Hamilton moved to Kincardine after that and coached the local midget team for three seasons. The team lost in the all-Ontario semi-finals each year, but captured an International Silver Stick championship in the 2016-17 season.
The Wingham Ironmen hired him to be its head coach, after his three years of coaching the Kincardine Midgets. Hamilton said it was tough to see the season cancelled because he was confident his team and players felt they had put in the work to have a chance at winning a league championship. They had gone back and forth in the first two games of the series, but he honestly felt the Ironmen had an advantage in a few key areas, which may have been the difference in what would have been a long series against the Patriots.
Ripley resident, Chase Meurs, who also played for the Wingham Ironmen, is like so many players across the province that will not get to finish their junior hockey career as a 20 or 21-year-old. Meurs said not being able to finish last year’s playoff was very disappointing. After making it to the finals and having an enjoyable, successful year, having it cut short like that was heartbreaking for the entire organization, especially the over-agers. From the start of the year, all the players, coaches, and executives were committed to putting together a great team.
Hamilton lives in Kincardine with his wife Brittany and their two sons, Brady and Clark. It is obvious with his resume, he has been a key part of putting winning teams on the ice.