Matthew Daigle | Telegraph-Journal
February 14, 2023
Since joining the Midwest Preparatory Hockey league in 2018, Rothesay Netherwood School’s boys hockey team has never won a championship in the league.
Thanks to some last-minute heroics and strong goaltending, RNS won its first ever MPHL championship on Sunday in a 2-1 victory against Wyoming Seminary, a preparatory school based in Pennsylvania. After being down 1-0 for most of the game, RNS tied the game with a little over two minutes left.
Then, in a backdoor cut with 14 seconds to go, defenceman Cohen McCallum tapped in the game-winning goal to seal the deal for the Riverhawks.
“I kind of saw an opportunity to jump up in the play, got a really nice pass from Drew Keiver, one of our forwards, and it made it pretty easy for me to tap it in,” said McCallum. “I was just speechless, that goal was just so huge for us, for the team and the program.”
The MPHL is a league comprised of 10 private schools in an 18-20 game season, said RNS coach and hockey director Jeff Lewis. Out of the 10 teams, six of them are from the United States with the rest coming from Canada, including RNS.
The league has produced players who’ve gone on to play major junior, NCAA and even the NHL including All-Star forward Alex DeBrincat.
They held a final tournament over the weekend in Buffalo, New York at LECOM Harborcenter, the Buffalo Sabres’ practice facility. Lewis said all three games were close, beating Gilmour Academy of Ohio 3-2, and beating Bishop’s College School of Sherbrooke, Quebec 3-2.
“It was a special weekend for our program and our group. The level of hockey in that league is really good,” said Lewis. “Our guys played really hard, really well and goaltending was exceptional, and we stuck to the script and we ended up being able to win that final game.”
McCallum comes from a talented hockey family. His older brother Kale was a defenceman in the QMHL before joining the University of New Brunswick and his sister Cassie is a goaltender on UNB’s women’s team.
Now, McCallum is making his mark with the Riverhawks.
“I don’t think at the start of this year anyone would have had us winning this tournament or anything, really. So it makes it more special in that way,” said McCallum. “I play a two-way game, a threat on both sides of the ice defensively and offensively. I like to jump up when I can and just make smart plays.”
Along with MPHL, RNS also plays in the Canadian Prep School Hockey Alliance and in some local tournaments, said Lewis.
He said this recent championship shows they are right there alongside other top programs in North America. Lewis said in the past 15 years their boys’ hockey program has gotten more competitive with other top programs.
“The guys were committed to defense and then we found a way when we had opportunities to bury,” said Lewis. “We had three great games, all low-scoring one-goal games, so, very much playoff hockey atmosphere.”