State of the Game: 2 September 2009
The Burton summer now concluded, many questions arise as we head into the autumn season of the most successful year in history. For VRH, the main issue will simply be weather. With a week of downpour expected to begin tomorrow, a weekend session appears unlikely for the first time in quite some while. The numbers, however, are solid, and any weekend between now and winter that doesn’t have rain will almost certainly have hockey at Ambleside (and perhaps William Griffin or Queen Elizabeth parks). There has never been a time where VRH has had as many willing players week-in, week-out as it does now. And let's not forget Ben de Wit is relocating to the Lower Mainland later this week for the university year. The future is quite bright for VRH.
For BUSH, the issues are more clearcut: a lack of goaltenders. The very thought seems absurd considering the skill and diversity of goaltenders this season, but suddenly player numbers are lacking. Golden Joe Leonard, Justin Gordon and Laird Bilinski are away, Nathan Robson is on what seems to be a permanent hiatus, Lyle Detta is injured and unavailable for the rest of the season, and K.J. O’Connor may be out for next season, let alone 2009. Essentially, the goaltending core has been reduced to Shem Hanna and Terryn Stenseth, both of whom also enjoy skating (especially Terryn), and it's not exactly a guarantee that both of those players will be there every single time. There are still excellent goaltenders available like Troy Waldron, Kyle Grenier and Nathan Wiebe, but they all almost play exclusively on skates. Players who are normally exclusively skaters will have to step up and strap on if they want to see hockey in Burton. Until Seamus O’Connor returns at the end of October (Laird Bilinski is hopefully expected back in the near future), things are going to be very uncertain in BUSH. Many of the skaters themselves are suddenly gone. Jesse Martin is back in Kelowna, Seamus O'Connor, Andrew Watson and Graeme Orr are off working, and Mitch Detta, Mitch Zorn and Dane Olsen all seem to be AWOL. In the span of two weeks, BUSH went from fifteen players to six.
As pessimistically as one may want to view the situation, it must also be stressed that every other challenge facing Burton Hockey this season has been met quite successfully, and that, as always, nothing is predictable in Burton Hockey. The next rookie goaltending sensation may be waiting around the corner. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to say the least.
This has been the greatest season in ten years of Burton Hockey. We've had more players, more games, and best of all, more quality hockey than we have ever dreamed of. We've played non-stop, every week, guaranteed, since the end of March. There is still plenty of time for more great hockey in both leagues. There's no reason for it to stop and we want to take this as far as it can go. Whether you are in the Arrow Lakes/Slocan Valley or in the Lower Mainland, the door is always open.