OSHAWA — Sports tryouts invariably leave more athletes disappointed than satisfied when the final cuts are made, but it doesn’t always spell the end for those who don’t make the team.
Sean Andrus and his family were among those left questioning the process when he was cut from Oshawa’s bantam AAA hockey team last year, but rather than stew too much about it, they found a solution in an unexpected place.
Sean, a goalie, had played AAA in his hometown of Oshawa from novice through minor bantam, and had little interest in moving down to AA, so began looking for other options, but had trouble doing so because his release came after most other teams were set.
That’s when the family learned about the Blyth Bruins program in Toronto, which operates under-16 and under-18 teams out of Westwood Arena and plays in the Prep School Hockey Federation.
It proved to be more expensive than rep hockey — father Larry Andrus said they spent just over $8,000 this season — but well worth it, in the minds of both father and son.
“It has just been amazing. They run a team like an OHL team,” Larry Andrus explained. “It’s geared for kids that have a higher degree of talent and the drive to move to the next level.”
Although first and foremost an educational institution, not every player who plays hockey at Blyth attends the academy.
Sean, for example, attended Grade 9 at McLaughlin Collegiate in Oshawa and travelled to Westwood Arena three times a week for one-and-a-half hour practices followed by another hour-and-a-half in the gym.
Games are played primarily on weekends as part of tournaments that have become popular among scouts of junior and college hockey, Larry Andrus says.
Pointing out that some players come from overseas and that most were older than him this season, Sean said he was happy with the decision and looks forward to returning to play for Blyth again next season.
“At the start, I didn’t know how competitive it was really going to be, but when the season got going, I realized it was triple-A level,” he said. “At the start of last year, I really wasn’t enjoying hockey as much as I should have been, so when I found Blyth I was really happy.”
Set to turn 15 this summer, Sean will be eligible for next year’s Ontario Hockey League draft, which is where his preference still lies, despite a recent interest also being shown for NCAA hockey.
Michael Lawrence, a former goalie coach with the Oshawa Generals, has had Andrus at his goalie school the past few years, and says he noticed a marked improvement in the young keeper at the most recent sessions at the Campus Ice Centre in Oshawa.
“I noticed a huge difference in Sean now than just six months ago,” said Lawrence, who has been working the past few hockey seasons with a pro team in Switzerland. “He’s really become a way better puck-tracker and a stronger kid than he was. He still has a long, long way to go, but that’s a big credit to their program.”
Dylan Gervais article in the Timmins Press!
Dec 22, 2015, 1:25 am
Hockey adventure continues for Timmins' Dylan Gervais
By Benjamin Aubé Friday, December 18, 2015 7:27:04 EST PM
In his second year with the Blyth Bruins of the Prep School Hockey Federation, Timmins' Dylan Gervais, 17, has been named one of the team's alternate captains. After moving to Toronto at the age of 14, Gervais' commitment to the game is showing results, both on and off the ice. In his second year with the Blyth Bruins of the Prep School Hockey Federation, Timmins' Dylan Gervais, 17, has been named one of the team's alternate captains.
When he was 14 years old, Dylan Gervais made the big jump from Timmins to Toronto in order to pursue his own path in hockey. Now, in his second year with the Blyth Academy Bruins of the Prep School Hockey Federation (PSHF), Gervais has been named the team's alternate captain and has started his season with 10 points in 12 games. “He is a force to be reckoned with,” stated Alex Bezerra, head coach of the Bruins. “Dylan is a player who has earned what he has received and brings his best effort every night.”
Gervais' journey started in his hometown Timmins, where he attended school at École secondaire catholique Thériault and played through the local hockey system up to his major bantam year with the 'AAA' Timmins Eagles. But it was during that Grade 9 year that Gervais really caught the eye of the minor midget 'AAA' Toronto Titans. They asked him to join the team down south for the next season. It was a large step for the young Northerner, but he adapted so well that he made the Blyth prep squad last year and is back for another go around this season as a 17-year-old. “I love the experience I am getting with this team,” said Gervais. “I have a great coach who helps us excel and I play with teammates from Canada, the States and Europe. “We also travel to the States. I've played in Québec City, Saint John, N.B., New York, Chicago, New Hampshire, Boston and so many more. We get a lot of exposure and opportunities to improve. We visit universities, we meet with the coaching staff from the University teams and I also get tons of exposure to scouts.”
Gervais is fourth on the U18 Bruins in scoring so far on the campaign on a team that also features major point-producers like Justin Pelowich-Pickup, captain Jonathan Pereira (14 points), Andrew Neeposh (11 points) and Solan Shifara (10 points). “Dylan has been off to a quick start this season and is on pace to be a point-per-game player this season,” said Bezerra. “In looking at our current roster and stats, we have a program filled with some very talented players like Dylan who can score and keep the game exciting. The program preaches the pillars of dedication, commitment, family and discipline. Dylan is a prime example of a candidate who lives his life according to these pillars.” “As he continues to grow and develop our hopes are to move him to an Ontario Junior Program to work towards his goals of playing college and pro hockey.”
After a season-and-a-half coaching Gervais, Bezerra said the Timmins native was a natural choice to be one of the team's captains. “Success is no accident,” said Bezerra. “It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing.” Gervais revealed he'd rather lead than follow, and said his experiences over the past three years in the the Big Smoke will serve him well in his new role as alternate captain for the Bruins. “When I moved to Toronto nobody knew me,” said Gervais. “I had to prove myself. People tell me I'm a leader. I bring the boys together and I lead by example. I work hard on and off the ice. I motivate. I never stop, even in the summer. I give everything I have to the game. I get along with all my teammates and and I know our team will have a good year.”
Gervais has been playing both on the power play and the penalty kill this season with the Bruins, something that he believes will only help continue his overall on-ice development. “'I am a strong forward and a two-way player with a great work ethic,” said Gervais, describing himself as a player. “I am a hard working winger that battles hard on every shift either in the corners, along the boards or in front of the net. I'm an effective player that contributes to the team spirit and give everything I have in a game.”
With his proud parents, Mike and Line, following his every step from back home in Timmins, Gervais hopes his next stop on his adventure will be somewhere on the junior hockey circuit, and eventually to the NCAA while he goes to school. And though he's still young, Gervais said his drive has him focused on playing professional hockey one day, whether that means staying in North America or adding another chapter to his travel-log over in Europe. “I want to be the best hockey player I can be,” he added. “This year I am finishing my grade 12. I have kept high marks throughout my high school years. I need to decide what route I'm taking for my education and my hockey. I am hoping to get a scholarship.”
Blyth Christmas Party November 21/15
Nov 4, 2015, 2:21 am
Blyth Bruins Families,
An email will be sent shortly with more information regarding our Christmas party and Team Fundraiser at the Duke of Devon, TD Towers, Center building, concourse level, 66 Wellington St. W, (East of York St., on North side of Wellington), Toronto, ON (Downtown), on Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 6:00pm.
The evening will include dinner, a cash bar, silent auction, raffle, poker tournament and other events for everyone to enjoy.
All Bruins players are expected to attend and to help with preparation of the events, as the money raised will benefit them directly.
Please let Simon know if any parents or family members would be able to help with party preparations.