Most kids dream of scoring the winning goal in overtime of game seven of the Stanley Cup finals, but for the past two weeks four Woolwich Minor hockey teams have had the opportunity to play for something nearly as good: an Ontario Minor Hockey Association championship.
Last Sunday, the Major Novice and the Minor Atom teams did just that as they each secured the OMHA title.
The Major Novice squad defeated the NobleKing Knights in three straight games to win the series, including the clinching 4-1 win on home ice Sunday afternoon.
“I don’t even know how to describe it, it’s a great feeling,” said head coach Lance Brezynskie of the win. “I walked into the room before and you could just feel how pumped the kids were, and the excitement.”
He said that home ice certainly worked to their advantage as well, and the crowd of nearly 500 spectators at the Woolwich Memorial Centre put an extra pop in their step – and helped to silence a small but vocal group of NobleKing supporters.
“It was nice to see that many people watching a Novice minor hockey game,” Brezynskie said.
For Tony Code and the Minor Atom A team, they didn’t have the benefit of the home-ice support, but prevailed with a 4-3 win over Inisfil Mar. 19 to secure their own OMHA championship.
“To be quite honest, that last game I didn’t necessarily think we deserved to win,” said Code. “Our guys found a way to score to get ahead, and our goalie just played outstanding. He won the whole game for us.”
Code had nothing but praise for the players for how they battled through what was probably not their best game of the series to secure the win.
“I can’t say enough about how great it is to see that our nice, little community and hockey organization has such great winners,” he said.
Both teams were recognized prior to the Elmira Sugar Kings game-three matchup against the Brantford Golden Eagles on Sunday night, and stood at the red line for the national anthem.
Unfortunately, not all the Woolwich teams in the OMHA finals this year fared as well as the Minor Atoms and the Major Novice’s. The Major Juvenile lost in their matchup against Orono in four games, having only won game-two 3-2 on home ice two weeks ago.
The team fell 5-1 in Orono last Sunday to lose the series 3-1.
“It was a well-fought series, everyone gave everything they had we just came up against a better team,” said assistant coach John Siopiolosz.
“Somebody has to win, and somebody has to lose. I’m sure everyone was disappointed.”
Siopiolosz specifically mentioned goaltender Matt Shantz, who he said played outstanding for the team in the finals, and played inspired hockey throughout the championship run.
The Minor Bantam squad is the fourth team still at it with the hopes of capturing the area’s third OMHA title this season. They are currently tied two games apiece with Uxbridge, losing 4-1 in Uxbridge last Sunday afternoon, but can close it out this afternoon (Saturday) at the WMC at 3 p.m.