The Texas Jr Brahmas are your NA3HL Fraser Cup Champions! Sunday afternoon, the Brahmas were able to take down the L/A Nordiques 2-1. Both teams came into the title game undefeated in the playoffs and the Fraser cup tournament. Both teams were the class of their divisions all year long. So it was only fitting that these two powerhouses met for all the marbles Sunday afternoon. Parker Mara opened up the scoring for Texas in the second period (19:38) and that held serve until Alex Rivet answered for the Nordiques in the 3rd (12:48). It was Findlay Wood who would net the game winner as he was assisted by the Captain Michael Redmon. That goal came towards the end of the 3rd with only three minutes and change to spare in the final frame. Both teams were supported by excellent goaltending, which had been unbelievable the entire postseason. So congratulations to Texas! You guys earned it and there is no better feeling then the fruit of you labor leading to the highest achievement.
One of the things that should not get lost is the emotional aspect for these young men is when you go through the grind of a sport like hockey, you form bonds and friendships with the other guys around you. It's a friendship and brotherhood that surpasses that of a normal friendship. Sports is one of the best bonding mechanisms. There are few things that draw men closer together as friends. The bag skates, the sweat, the blood, the mental fatigue, and the unwavering commitment to your teammates and the game of hockey. These young men will remember this for the rest of their lives. They will remember with great zeal how it felt to hoist that cup. The ultimate return on investment for any player of organized sports. Cherish the moment and don't let the mindless renditions of "We are the Champions" take away from it.
Looking back in retrospect on the 2018-2019 NA3HL season, there are a lot of things to take away. First, Tier 3 Jr Hockey is fiercely competitive. There are rivalries that are more interesting and entertaining than any so called "rivalry" in the big league today. That serious competitive discontent for an opponent is alive and well in the NA3, and its made for some incredible hockey. Second, the quality of competition in the NA3 is very healthy. Apart from 3 or 4 teams that just get shelled every single night they are on the ice, you could go to an NA3 game and catch a very competitive and very watchable hockey game. Next, the quality of play is there as well. Some of these guys can flat out play hockey. I saw very few games this year where I thought to myself, "Boy this is really boring". There are some guys in this league who are very skilled at their craft. Finally, the love of the sport. I've met a lot of people in this league and all of them just plain love hockey and at the end of the day that is how it's supposed to be.
If you are a player, don't forget to thank your coaches. Thank your GM"s and your billet families and your support staff. And when you get home thank your parents. Thank your parents for allowing you the opportunity to continue playing one of the greatest sports ever played. If this is your last year, look fondly on your time spent. If you are fortunate enough to play at the next level, cherish it and most importantly, work your stinkin' butt off. You will get out of anything precisely what you put into it. Don't cheat the process because you can't cheat the game. If you think you are going to rise through the ranks of this sport not putting out your best effort, you will be sorely mistaken. You have been given the opportunity to do more with your life than the average Joe. Take advantage of it. Those of you who may not be taking the next step, or are making the move from hockey, to life after hockey, keep the same things in mind. Whatever you put your hands to, do it 100%. Believe me, you don't want to be a college drop out and your first real job in the working world is that of a prison guard, because you couldn't dig down deep enough to find the motivation to make something out of yourself.
I can't wait for hockey season to start again next year! Congrats Brahmas! You guys were top notch all year long and now you're the champs! Now starts the worst part of any hockey season... the end of it. Coming up soon though will be the NAHL combines. For Juniors you'll get two of them one April 5th through 7th in Attleboro, Mass. And the other in the luxurious, scenic city of Detroit, Mich. on April 12th through 14th. Your 2019 NA3 draft will be on April 16th. I can't wait to see what everyone's teams will look like next year!
(Editors Note: TJHP would like to thank Mack for all his contributions this season in providing analysis and stories on the Southern area of the NA3HL. We look forward to the continuing contributions from Mack and everything he provides not only the readers, but TJHP)