Chargers preparing for OFSAA hockey championships

By: Randy Pascal – Playback

 | Mar 17, 2014 - 2:51 PM |
Claiming the NOSSA AAA crown, the Confederation Chargers are now gearing up for the 2014 OFSAA AAA/AAAA Boys Hockey Championships. Supplied

Claiming the NOSSA AAA crown, the Confederation Chargers are now gearing up for the 2014 OFSAA AAA/AAAA Boys Hockey Championships. Supplied

Given the peaks and valleys the Confederation Chargers have already experienced this year, there is little chance the 2014 OFSAA AAA/AAAA Boys Hockey Championships will throw them much of a twist.

The Chargers surprised many by capturing the NOSSA AAA crown after being eliminated from the SDSSAA playoffs with a pair of one-goal losses to the Lasalle Lancers in the semifinals.

Like so many high school teams, the Confederation lineup is dotted with a wide variety of players, covering a gap of both age and talent. Forward Anthony Talevi is one of a solid handful of younger players on the team, having moved over, in Grade 10, after several years of competitive A and AA hockey under his belt.

"It was a little different than I thought it would be," said Talevi. "Because of the age range, the size difference is noticeable. But once you get a few games in, you start to adapt pretty quickly."

Like most members of the Chargers, Talevi recognized almost immediately a collection of talent that had a chance to find themselves among the league's elite, assuming they could avoid the perennial challenges of lack of discipline.

"We didn't have a huge problem with it this year, but we did have the odd little slip up," Talevi said. "Sometimes, it really brought the team down."

Still, the Chargers persevered, opening NOSSA with a pair of ties before winning their last two games and claiming the first ever banner for the school's boys hockey program.

Yet no one is fooling themselves with regards to the level of competition they are about to face in Burlington.

"Obviously, I want to compete hard," said Talevi. "It will be good to see where we stand in terms of all-Ontario.

"Are we one of the top teams? I'm guessing probably not."

For senior Russell Wilson, it hardly matters. He's just ecstatic for the experience itself. Small wonder, given that the native of Red Lake did not even start to play organized hockey until the age of 14.

Now in his fourth year with the Chargers, Wilson enjoys an incredibly humbling sense of how he fits into the mix.

"On the calibre range, I fall on the lower end," he explained. "It's just really cool to be playing with the big guys, to watch them and be part of the wins and the losses with them.

"You have to look at it like you have a role on the team. My role isn't like (former AAA sniper Brandon) Dumouchel's. I go on and give it my all for the 40 seconds that I'm on."

With that well-grounded perspective, Wilson carries an appreciation for his first-ever trek to an OFSAA event.

"It's a good feeling to know that it's my last year of high school and that we've accomplished something that I've always hoped we might with at least one sports team," said Wilson.

Brock Connor falls smack dab between Talevi and Wilson, now in Grade 11 and in his third year with the team. Despite playing primarily houseleague hockey in his youth, the grandson of well-known referee and Silver Stick organizer Art Connor finds an outlet in high school hockey that he cannot duplicate elsewhere.

"It's the kind of game that I am," said Connor. "Even though I'm a smaller guy, I like to play the body, I like the high intensity. It's such a different game with the body checking.

"Houseleague helps you out with your skating and your puck control. But the hitting, in high school, for me, isn't a big issue. I've always skated with my head up, so I can see the ice pretty well."

The Chargers travelled south, once earlier in the year, taking part in a tournament that provided a healthy eye-opener for the teens.

"It was really tough getting used to the speed and the talent," said Connor.
"But by the end of the tournament, we tied the best team 2-2."

Realistic and thankful summarize this particular trio of Chargers.

"I've never experienced something like OFSAA before," said Wilson. "I'm going to enjoy every moment of the trip."

The 2013-2014 edition of the Confederation Chargers includes Brett Boileau, Bradley Boivin, Aaron Campbell, Brock Connor, Brandon Dumouchel, Ben Ernst, Carter Hanson, Brady Jones, William Labonte, Dylan Lloyd, Andrew MacKinnon, Brett MacKinnon, Jordan Michael, Nick Dombek, Austin Pharand, Trey Ricci, Jeremy Serre, Anthony Talevi, Kyle Tattersall, Curtis Theobald and Russell Wilson.

Head coach Jamie Bouchard leads a staff that also features Dave Lefebvre, Jason Walker, John MacKinnon and Greg Connor.

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