The Sun Youth Hornets Midget football team had a great season, an amazing season, winning the Quebec Midget Football League (QMFL) Provincial Championship and getting their hands on the Doug Britton Cup by shutting out the North Shore Mustangs 24 to 0. This victory lead them to take part in the Interprovincial Bowl where they defeated the Ottawa Knights 37 to 1. While the last Midgets were awarded the Dough Britton Cup was in 2014, the young athletes in this year’s team were all part of the Bantam team that won both the provincial and interprovincial championships in 2017.
Their awesome track record didn’t go unnoticed, especially by the Montreal Canadiens. On December 3rd, the Midgets were gathered at Sun Youth’s former headquarters (Baron Byng on St. Urbain) to celebrate their victories with coaches and parents but the Habs had a special surprise in store for them. In addition to the team’s mascot Youppi! (who caused quite a stir when he first walked in the room where the event was held), the Canadiens had sent three of their best men to congratulate the Hornets: Captain Shea Weber and Assistant Captains Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher. “We heard about your season and we wanted to come and congratulate you guys”, said Montreal Canadiens Captain Shea Weber to the players in attendance. This event was part of the Montreal Canadiens’ “Random Acts of Kindness” initiative. Bearing more than words of encouragement, the trio gave each player and their family tickets to a January 2019 game against the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens tuques. They also presented a $4000 cheque on behalf of Sports Experts to support Sun Youth’s Sports & Recreation program. After supper (also offered by the Canadiens), the Habs players and the Hornets went into the gym to throw the football and played a friendly game of touch football. Paul Byron scored a touchdown on an interception while all in attendance had a chance to see that Weber’s throw of the ball is as powerful as his one-timers.
It was also a very emotional moment for Sun Youth’s General Director Johanne Saltarelli, who wished the organization’s late cofounder Earl De La Perralle had been there to see the smiles on the kids’ faces. The last time Sun Youth had the chance to welcome Montreal Canadiens’ players was when Mark Recchi was playing (between 1994 and 1999). This visit was a unique opportunity for the Hornets to meet their favourite hockey players, get their autographs and have their picture taken with them. The event ended with Weber, Byron, Gallagher and Youppi! joining the Hornets in their team chant, a moment the young athletes will remember for a long time.
Feature image: Assistant Captain Brendan Gallagher signing a Montreal Canadiens jersey for Hornets Midget player Jeff Medeiros