Winter Means Hockey for Dayton Blue Hawks
J. C. Tilton
Traditionally winter time is the time for basketball and wrestling in the Miami Valley. But some youth like sports with a little more contact. Dayton's Hara Arena is home the Dayton Blue Hawks youth hockey organization. They field teams from ages 9 and under to ages 18 and under. Players from around the Miami Valley play on these teams. I was invited to watch the youngest age division - the Mighty Mites, but I got to watch the last period of the oldest age group, an 18u game. They were playing excellent hockey and it was a physical game. The action was fast paced and there were some vicious body checks. The younger age groups do not allow body checking and all players in all age groups are well equipped for safety, including a helmet with full face coverage.
Don James of Germantown has coached for the Dayton Blue Hawks for years. He started himself as a youngster in the 1960's - back when the Dayton Gems were the local semi-pro hockey team. As a coach he has sent several players on to play for Division I colleges and his own son is currently a player for Ohio University. Most recently he lead a team to be state runners up in 2003. Now he is working with the youngsters in this division and teaching them the basics of hockey. As they get older, they should gel as a team. As they become teenagers some of the players may be invited to play in summer hockey tournaments in Toronto to stay sharp for the winter.
The BlueHawks were matched up against the Indy All Stars. The teams exchanged goals in the first period with Ian Molfenter of Dayton and Thomas Dyball of Beavercreek scoring. Dayton had some penalties early and had players sent to the penalty box. Dyball scored his goal despite the team being a player short due to a penalty. But Indy closed out the period with a score and added another goal in the second period. Dayton managed another score in the last period when Thomas Walsh of Englewood worked his way behind the goal and fished the puck into the net with a nice wrap around shot. Indy had a strong finish and extended their lead, finally winning 9-3.
After the game the players seemed to brush aside the loss. They shed their pads and helmets and transformed from hockey players to little second and third graders. Hockey player smiles were evident - most of the players are 7-8 years old and like all kids in this age group have jack-o-lantern teeth anyway. Coach James said the key is to keep these kids together as team from the 9u age group to the 18u age group. As they get older and play more and more together the team will naturally improve. This team's next outing was more successful. At the Cincinnati Cyclones Winter Elite Classic tournament they were champs. Beating the Strongsville Mustangs 5-1, Cincinnati Cyclones 3-1, Canton-Akron Penguins 9-1 and winning the championship 4-1.
The next generation of Dayton Blue Hawks are having fun and learning. Comments: email: Chris Tilton