As It Happens

Ontario minor hockey team isn't backing down, despite suffering 41-0 loss

The coach of the Cambridge Hawks Red minor hockey team is maintaining a positive outlook despite suffering a recent 41-0 drubbing at the hands of the Kitchener Jr. Rangers Red squad.

Cambridge Hawks Red coach Chris Wismer opposes any association-wide mercy rules

The Cambridge Hawks Red minor hockey team huddle on the ice during a game against the Burlington Cougars in Burlington. The team's coach says his players remain unfazed despite losing 41-0 in a recent game against the Kitchener Rangers. (Submitted by Chris Wisner)

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The coach of a Cambridge minor rep hockey team is maintaining a positive outlook despite suffering a recent drubbing at the hands of their opponents.

The Kitchener Jr. Rangers Red squad defeated the Cambridge Hawks Red team 41-0 on Oct. 20.

"They understood they were being scored on a lot, but we kept their emotions in check," Hawks coach Chris Wismer told As It Happens host Carol Off.

Wismer said the scoreboards never show a score differential greater than six goals, so the game between the Rangers and Hawks stayed at 6-0 even after the Rangers continued to perforate the Hawks' defence.

He added that many of the parents were shocked at the final tally. "Mind you, some of them were keeping track in their heads," he said.

Tony Martindale, executive director of the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario, called the game "the most lopsided score we've ever had," according to the Kitchener Region Record.

'It's literally ground zero'

The Hawks are currently 0-7 and have been outscored 132-4 this season.​ Despite the dismal record, Wismer stressed that the team's morale remains strong.

"There [were] no tears, no sad faces after the game," he said. "They come to the rink every single day that we have practice and they are upbeat, and they are happy, and they are eager to learn."

They still have a lot to learn, however. While the Kitchener Rangers have kept a mostly stable roster for the last two to three years, the Hawks only have three returning players from the previous season.

The Cambridge Hawks are currently 0-7 and have been outscored 132-4 this season.​ (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

Before this season, said Wismer, many of the boys on his team have never played a full hockey game before.

"Even now in practices, we're still working on the basics with them: learning how to take a pass, learning how to shoot the puck properly, passing the puck from [defence] to forwards, and not just one person trying to skate it out of their own zone," he explained. 

"It's literally ground zero."

Opposed to mercy rules

Wismer is open to suggestions on how to better avoid matches between teams that have substantially different skill levels. But he said it's probably too late to make those changes in the current season.

According to the Record, Rangers coach Chris Berscht instructed his players to pass the puck at least five times, and to return to their zone before going up the ice and attempting to score again.

Wismar didn't take issue with the Rangers coach's new directives, but he is absolutely opposed to implementing new mercy rules such as running the clock down faster in the event of a rout.

"If we run the clock on them that's showing them that we are giving up. We're not going to give up," he said.

"These boys are going to compete until that final whistle goes. And that's what they want to do."

Written by Jonathan Ore. Segment produced by Richard Raycraft.