Most rep hockey teams in Ancaster carry 17 teammates. Two goalies and 3 full defensive and forward lines. There’s one exception however, The Ancaster Minor PeeWee AE Avalanche. They carry 18 players.

Let me explain. While Connor Lavell, the 18th team member, didn’t get a placement on the team by the traditional try-out method the others did, he became an honorary member of the team his brother, Cameron plays with. Connor’s love for the game is only surpassed by his affection for the “Hockey Boys” and early in the season the boys adopted him as their 18th member by presenting him with his very own team jacket. When the Avalanche play, Connor is there – in the team dressing room before the game, cheering the team on to each victory, and back to the dressing room after the game. Always sporting his team jacket. Most days he can’t wait for the next game, or better yet when the Hockey Boys pay him a visit when his parents, Carol and Bernie graciously host the team for a get-together.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about Connor. Connor is a classmate of mine at Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School and was born with Down Syndrome which is due to an extra #21 chromosome.  His road in life has not been that easy and he has had many challenges but he has never stopped smiling.  At age two Connor had open heart surgery to repair a hole in his heart.  It took him awhile to learn to walk again after the surgery but he recovered and has not stopped since.  Connor’s parents felt it  was important for Connor to be active and involved in the community which includes playing on the Special Olympics basketball team.  He attended St. Joachim school where the staff treated him like their own son.  They were warm and welcoming and supported the family in anyway they could.  Connor’s parents were worried about the transition to Bishop Tonnos High school.  It would be difficult to leave the safe environment of St. Joachim. Thankfully the staff and students at high school have been just as amazing.  Connor’s parents feel that there have been so many wonderful people that have helped their family along the way but in the eyes of Connor the Ancaster Avalanche ‘hockey boys’ are the best!!  He loves each one of the boys and admires all the coaches because they accept him for who he is which is really all anyone could ask for.

Connor is a hockey player in his own right and plays for the HDSHA Sledgehammers. HDSHA or Hamilton and District Sledge Hockey Association is a non profit organization run by dedicated volunteers.  Sledge hockey is a modified hockey game for disabled members of our community.  The players sit in a specially designed sled and propel themselves about the ice in the sled using shortened hockey sticks with picks on the ends.  It is a Paralympic sport in which Canada naturally excels!  Players range in age from 6 to 60.

A few months ago Connor and the Sledgehammers challenged the Minor PeeWee AE Avalanche team to a game. The Avalanche were pumped to try out sledge hockey and discussion in the dressing room was around ‘taking it easy’ on the other team and not winning by ‘too much’ YA RIGHT! Connor and his teammates proceeded to kick the Avalanche’s butts all game and it was them who ended up playing cat and mouse with the defeated Avalanche team. Connor scored his very first goal that game and was awarded the game puck!

There are many amazing volunteers running HDSHA.  Hockey is our national game and what an extraordinary thing it is to be able to offer the sport to the disabled community. In order to help support these efforts, an annual event is held to raise funds for the organization. Connor had asked if the ‘Hockey Boys’ could come to his dance and I know the team was all too honored to support their teammate, just as he has supported them all season.

Connor, and the Ancaster Minor PeeWee AE Avalanche, would now like to extend the offer to the entire Ancaster, Hamilton, and surrounding communities. You are hereby cordially invited to dress up as your favorite movie actor/actress or character and come show your support for the Hamilton and District Sledge Hockey Association.  If you are unable to make it please consider buying a ticket anyways, or making a donation to show your support of Connor and HDSHA as they strive to make the game of hockey available to everyone, regardless of their situation in life.

I’d encourage you to please contact Carol Lavell for more information or to order tickets at (905) 304-1700 BEFORE APRIL 15 . As a community, let’s get behind this worthwhile cause and show our support!!!


What: ‘Red Carpet Night’
When: Saturday  May 12, 2012  (Ticket orders due Sunday, April 15)
Where: 821 Upper Wentworth Street, Hamilton
Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection
Time: 7:30
Tickets:  $15 and include buffet, DJ, door prizes and cash bar.  Available by calling Carol Lavell at 905-304-1700.

Come dressed as your favourite movie character or actor….prizes for best dressed!

Any profits raised from the dance will offset the high cost of ice rental, the cost of specialized equipment and to assist families who need help financially with registrations fees for the family earning potential is greatly reduced due to caring for a child with a disability.

Thanks for your help with this and for raising much needed awareness.