The True Champions

A pillar of support,  A pillar of strength, A motivational speaker, A sports psychologist, A shoulder to cry on or the perfect person to deliver a well timed and deserved kick in the arse. Hockey mom’s really do it all. 

You see hockey mom’s are the true champions.

This weekend’s Moncton Wildcats games will no doubt be extra special for the players and their families.

The Wildcats organization have invited all the hockey mom’s to attend this weekends home stand at the Avenir Centre.

The bond between hockey mom and son truly transcends the game.

Nevertheless, one foursome of Wildcat hockey mom’s have already forged a unique bond. 

You could say they are all one big family.

The bond between championship teams live on forever, that’s what makes this foursome of players and their mother’s so special. 

They have experienced the championship journey together once before with the 2017 TELUS Cup winning Cape Breton West Islanders. 

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my mom,” confessed Wildcats defencemen Ryan MacLellan.

“There are no words to describe how thankful I am for her and everything she does for me.” 

“All the times she has drove me to the rink, made my meals and did what ever it took just so I could be happy. She is always there for me and supporting me no matter what. I love her so much,” he said.

“I think this weekend is awesome to bring all of the mom’s together to acknowledge them. It means a lot to me. I’m sure she won’t like the spotlight when she goes out on the ice before the game, but she sure deserves it,” explained MacLellan.

“It’s hard to express how proud we are of Ryan and all that he’s accomplished,” said Dawn MacLellan.

“It’s been quite a journey since he was drafted in 2016 and he’s worked very hard for everything that he’s achieved.  To now be able to share this journey with my friends that I have known basically since the first time that the boys stepped on the ice, it feels like we are back home and that we have come full circle.”

“The sacrifices are no doubt similar to all of the other players in the league, but as with all the others I think he would say they have all been worth it.  Time away from his family and friends is probably the biggest sacrifice,” she said.

MacLellan was acquired by the Wildcats during the Trade Period from the defending President Cup and Memorial Cup Champions the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share this with Ryan.  It’s really a privilege and I feel very lucky,” MacLellan said of coming to Moncton this weekend.

Just how special was the TELUS Cup winning team both on and off the ice?

“For those Cape Breton West players to have won the TELUS Cup was an amazing accomplishment and something I don’t think any of us will ever forget.  Every player brought their skill, personality and work ethic and came together to form the team that made that championship run,” said MacLellan.

Unwavering love and support is certainly a common theme amongst these four life long friends and teammates when mentioning their mother’s impact in their journeys in the game. 

“I know that there’s weekends where my mom probably didn’t want to make overnight trips to wherever my team was playing that weekend, but she’d never let that show,” Wildcats defencemen Sean Stewart said.

“She never complained about having to take me all over the place to play hockey. She has been one of my biggest supporters and will always back up the decisions I make.” 

“This weekend is really great because it’s dedicated to our moms,” Stewart said proudly.

“For me it’s special that the game is going to be for her.”

“I’m happy that Mr. Irving is doing all this for our moms to be able to come visit us and see us play.”

“I am extremely proud of Sean’s accomplishments in hockey. This will be a special weekend for all of the moms and players,” said Wanda Stewart.”

Photo Credit Daniel St Louis

“As hockey moms, we have spent many weekends at many rinks.  This weekend we pause from our regular routines to celebrate each other and our sons.  We have all been a part of many hockey families and we will now extend our hockey circle to include a new group of moms.”

“I am very fortunate to celebrate with three moms who have been with me since Sean was five years old.”

“Nadine, Karen and Dawn were a part of Sean’s first year in hockey at the Antigonish Arena and now we are celebrating at the Avenir Center.”

“Hockey builds many friendships and I am so excited that these friends are here this weekend,” stressed Stewart. 

Stewart understands the hours of dedication and the sacrifices her son and all the Wildcats players have made to get this far.

“Hockey is hard work, but there is no doubt that the work feels easier when you love what you are doing. Sean, like all of his team mates, has spent endless hours devoted to hockey.”

“I am very happy to be here this weekend. I would like to thank the Moncton Wildcats for giving us this opportunity to spend time with our sons and with each other,” she added. 

“The Telus Cup team was a perfect example of small town Canadian hockey.  That was a group of young boys who believed in their team and pushed themselves to never give up. Those players, and our families, have a special bond that formed in a small rink in rural Port Hood that will last a lifetime,” confessed Stewart.

For Wildcats forward Jake Stewart, this weekend is another great way to honour the countless sacrifices made by all the hockey mom’s especially his own. 

Photo Credit Daniel St Louis

The usually quiet and soft-spoken gritty two-way forward and fierce competitor was very candid discussing his mother’s impact.

“This weekend is extremely special for myself and the other players,” Stewart said.

“Back in Midget we had quite a few players from Antigonish and four of us on Moncton currently, that had to make the hour and ten minute trip down and back for every single practice.”

“Our parents would carpool us and most of the time it was the moms. I remember how they were always willing to spend there time and energy even when sometimes I’m sure they’d rather be doing other things. I also realize now that playing for West was a commitment for the players. Having to train and work hard to play hockey. But we were all in school and hockey was a huge part of our lives. For our mom’s it was almost an even bigger commitment,” he said.

“Having to worry about all the travel and extremely late nights on every school night, while also balancing their own jobs and taking care of us and listening to us rant on.”

“It is pretty impressive and you don’t really appreciate as much at the time then I do right now. I definitely wouldn’t be where I and with out my mom let alone my teammates mom’s as well.”

“I can also remember ranting on and on to my mother because hockey isn’t all perfect, every kid has their ups and downs and in midget there were a few that could only be handled by my mother’s touch.”

Spoken like the true team player and leader.

“I am extremely proud of Jacob and all he has accomplished both on and off the ice,” said Karen Stewart. 

“He is a very happy, self-driven person with a heart of gold. He strives to do his best and throughout the years he has continued to excel in school, while maintaining a very busy hockey schedule. What makes this group of four boys so special is that they got to grow up together, win together, lose together and share many life experiences together,” explained Stewart. 

These four boys, like many others, have experienced many successes throughout their hockey career to get to this point. However, these successes do not come without sacrifices.  Early morning practice, after school dryland, being on the ice typically six days a week from Novice to Midget, and missing many social and extra-curricular school functions are just some of the sacrifices they had to make.” 

“These sacrifices have taught our son resiliency, prioritization, selflessness, and time management. We feel as parents, that Jacob is the wonderful person he is today because of all he has experienced throughout his years in hockey,” Stewart said proudly. 

“With Jacob living away from home, any time we get to spend together is very special. This celebration of mothers is a true testament to the quality of the program offered by the Moncton Wildcats organization. To have this season dedicated to Mr. Irving’s mom and to all mothers of these young men, is truly a momentous event.” 

A special group of people and players. 

“What made this team so special was that all players were focused, determined, worked hard, and above all, they had belief in themselves and in each other,” Stewart said. 

The competitive fire burns bright in every hockey mom’s eyes.

That competitive fire and the desire to win is certainly passed down from mother to son.

“The sacrifices my mom has made are what has gotten me to the level where I am today,” said Wildcats Asst. Captain Jacob Hudson.

Photo Credit Daniel St Louis

“She’s the most selfless person I have ever encountered in my life,” confessed Hudson.

“Raising three hockey boys, she spent most of her time preparing us for the rink and everything that comes with it. She works incredibly hard to be able to make everything possible and I honestly cannot thank her enough.”

“She’s a huge inspiration and I play every single night for her. She is my rock,” Hudson said proudly.

“I am very proud of Jacob for his hard work and dedication on this journey in life, Nadine Hudson said. 

“He has grown as a hockey player and as a young man.” 

He has had several different teammates a long the way, but these four Bulldogs, Novas and Cape Breton West Islanders have been there from the start.” 

“It is so nice to see the boys playing together and working for the ultimate prize. Ironically the parents are still car-pooling to the rinks,” confessed Hudson. 

“We are a family.” 

“Over the years there have been a lot of commitments and sacrifices from all involved and without the commitment from the boys the parents would not have made the sacrifices they did.” 

The boys had long drives to practices and games which meant they had to learn to manage their time well , they learned to quickly prioritize things . Jacob had to change schools leaving his friends behind and he missed many of family functions which at times was difficult, but this was the path he chose,” she said. 

This weekend will be one Nadine Hudson remembers forever. 

“This weekend is really quite something.” 

“I am sure a lot of work has gone into it and I will enjoy it with all the other hockey moms, the ones I’ve grown as a hockey mom with and the ones I will meet for the first time. I think it’s fair to say we all appreciate it, but all we need to hear is “Thanks mom.” 

Hudson sees a lot of similarities between the Wildcats and the West Islanders team that won it all. 

“The West Islanders had a great support system behind them, they all bought in and never gave up.”

“That group kept pushing forward at each stage of the journey. The Wildcats seem to have a tight knit group, which kind of reminds me of the West Islanders.” 

“They have a great support system behind them from the owner to the coaches and bench staff.” 

“We are all hoping for great things which will start at one shift at a time.” 

“On behalf of all the moms I would like to say a huge ‘Thank you’ to Mr. Irving for making this special weekend happen.” 

Photo Credit Kim Daborn

For one weekend the unique bond will be shared between player and hockey mother.

From an organizational standpoint it became pretty clear that the Wildcats were targeting a plethora of West Islanders to be part of their future. 

“On the ice this group was the never quit group of kids,” said Wildcats Nova Scotian Scout David Thibeau.

“During that season they had tough games and then they just went to work to out work and out character the other teams,” 

“They were the “working person” team.  Off the ice the players always seemed to be with each other.  Whether it was car-pooling to practice for 1 hour drive or volunteering in the community.  This group of kids and especially the group of four were humble,” he added.

 “Character and hard work did not only describe the players, but their parents and also grandparents.  With all these players I knew not only their parents, but also for most part their grandparents. 

Commitment to their community, volunteers and hard working truly epitomize these amazing families.

“There are the type of characters and players we were looking to be future Wildcats,” confessed Thibeau. 

“Winning Championships takes heart, character and hard work.”   

“This group of players are the epitome of champions.”

The true champions behind any hockey player, at any level are their parents, especially their hockey mom. 

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