Wow, what an experience for our boys! The Belle River Nobles' hockey team would like to thank the Fort Frances OFSAA committee for a memory of a lifetime.
From the first bus ride into your town on a late Sunday night, we knew there was something different about Fort Frances. Every store front showed the support this town has for their team and for high school hockey. This continued throughout the entire trip with anyone we were lucky enough to encounter.
Being from a small community ourselves, we noticed that “small town pride” was on display wherever we went.
Bob—Thank you for heading such a wonderful group of volunteers. You always had time for us and never made it seem like you had to be somewhere else when we were talking to you.
Also, thank you for allowing me to redo that last game sheet with “the pen.”
Mike—Your banquet speech was inspirational. You had our boys' attention the whole time instilling some life lessons.
“Play Smart, Play Hard, Play for your Team” will be on the walls of our dressing room back home by the start of next season.
Kevin—Thank you for always, always having the patience to pick up “those Belle River coaches.” We always looked forward to the short conversations we had getting shuttled around the town.
Russ—Thank you for going out of your way to get our boys the mouth guards they apparently didn't need:) We were in a panic and before we knew it, our nerves were calmed.
Joey-Thank you for taking the time to talk to us coaches and put together such an awesome article. I think I have read it 10 times.
Also, thanks for allowing us to purchase copies of the paper as a keepsake for our boys.
Paul—Thank you for helping our players with their skate issues. There are not many other people outside of Fort Frances who would have stepped up above and beyond to help another team.
You taught our team a valuable lesson in sportsmanship. Thanks again.
Pam and Todd—Thank you for a memorable banquet. The school gym looked amazing and the meal was fantastic!
John—Thank you for emceeing the banquet. Keeping the attentions of over 300 teenage boys is not easy:)
Andrea—Thank you for all the little things involving our jerseys and banners.
Keno—Thank you for offering any of the services the Muskie team had to offer after an unfortunate result at the tournament. We were really hoping to face-off against your team at some point.
You, too, taught us sportsmanship and a bigger picture outlook. It's no wonder you have all the success you do with the Muskies.
All the referees—Thank you for allowing the players to play hockey in a safe and fair manner. This does not happen at every tournament.
All the other volunteers—We may not know your names but thank you for all the time you put into this event. Our team learned a lot about how a small-town community should run.
“Volunteerism is the rent we pay to live in a good community.” This was definitely on display for four days straight.
The fans—Our team saw the disappointment once the Muskies were eliminated. I personally was wishing we would have somehow met in the finals. What a dream scenario.
Thank you for adopting us and cheering us on during the final game. It felt as though we had home-ice advantage.
Our boys left the arena with a gold medal. Our first team medal in our hockey club's history. As they grow older and think back to the tournament, I can't help but think the memory of a gold medal slowly will fade to the life lessons instilled in them from a community like no other.
Fort Frances is different than any other place our coaches have ever visited. You have something truly special.
Thank you for allowing us to share this with you for five short days. I hope we are able to bring a small bit of it home to our small town of Belle River.
We will look forward to the day we see OFSAA is back in Northern Ontario at the Fort. It will be extra motivation to try and return to such a special place.
Who knows? Maybe we will host soon and try to return somewhat the memorable experience.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!
Belle River, Ont.,
On behalf of the
Belle River Nobles