For St. John’s Maple Leafs coach Rick Babstock, the biggest challenge ahead is convincing his team that they belong on the same ice surface as the best Midget teams in the country.
And while that may seem like a formidable task for some, Babstock shouldn’t have too difficult of a time making believers out of his team. After all, his team took home the gold medal from the 2006 Monctonian Challenge and thirteen members of this year’s squad also took part in last year’s TELUS Cup in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
“One of the biggest problems we have here is making our boys believe we can compete on the national stage,” said Babstock. “We don’t get that opportunity very often and my guys have to believe they can do it. They have proven that they can do it.”
The Leafs dominated the Newfoundland and Labrador Midget AAA Hockey League right from the start and continued to gel as a team both on and off the ice.
Their continued growth resulted in a 29-1-0 regular season and sweeps in both the league semi-final and final, resulting in 27 consecutive wins in league and playoff action.
The Maple Leafs’ determination to prove their worth, both to themselves and to the rest of Canada, was evident at the Atlantic Regional in Cornwall, Prince Edward Island, where the team went 2-0-2 record in the round robin and scored a win over the Nova Scotia champion Dartmouth Subways in the championship game.
With St. John’s approach continually nurtured by the coaching staff, combined with the growing enthusiasm and belief in themselves, the Maple Leafs should do well facing the top Midget teams from across Canada at the TELUS Cup in Red Deer.