Sudbury's Most Complete Local Sports Coverage

Date Published: November 8, 2006

Exciting finals highlight Big Nickel closing day

A very long weekend of hockey went even longer at Countryside Arena Sunday evening but few of the hundreds of fans in attendance seemed to mind as the Big Nickel Hockey Tournament wrapped up with championship play in all three divisions. The Soo North Stars midgets provided the local event with their first Northern Ontario Gold medallist since 2002 as Kurtis Travaglini scored the game-winner in overtime, lifting the Soo past the Mississauga Ice Dogs 3-2.

One year ago, the Nepean Raiders and Sudbury Nickel Capitals went to triple overtime before the Raiders forged out a hard fought 2-1 win. The North Stars became the first squad north of Parry Sound to walk away with a championship banner since the Thunder Bay King Midgets turned the trick in 2002.

Travaglini's game winner represented the game's only goal after the opening twenty minutes of play as Sault Ste Marie jumped out to an early lead, only to have the Ice Dogs even the score at two before the end of the first period. Mike Rivard and Jerry Petingalo handled the remaining offense for Sault Ste Marie who benefitted from a largely supportive local contingent of fans, something they are surely not accustomed to within the confines of the south-end arena.

The Bantam final proved equally as close even if it didn't extend beyond regulation time. That was thanks to the North York Jr Canadians' Cody McNaughton who broke a scoreless draw with under five minutes remaining to lift the Canadians to a 1-0 win over the Toronto Marlboros.

In Peewee play, James Lappin enjoyed a two-goal effort as the York-Simcoe Express garnered their first ever Big Nickel Tournament banner, downing the Toronto Marlboros 3-1 in the final. Connor Crisp rounded out the scoring for York-Simcoe with Jacob Hand replying in a losing cause for the Marlies.

Following is a breakdown of individual award recipients honoured at the tournament:

Divisional MVPs

Midget - Jerry Petingalo (Soo North Stars)
Bantam - John McFarland (Jr Canadians)
Peewee - Chris Tierney (York-Simcoe Express)

All-Star Teams

Goaltender - Mathieu Cadieux (Markham Waxers)
Defense - Paul Janetta (Toronto Marlboros)
Defense - Victor DeJulio Jr (Jr Canadians)
Forward - Stephon Thorne (Mississauga Ice Dogs)
Forward - Nick Esposto (Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats)
Forward - Jerry Petingalo (Soo North Stars)

Goaltender - Steven Gleeson (Jr Canadians)
Defense - Anthony Dotchinson (Toronto Marlboros)
Defense - Dylan Connolly (Soo Greyhounds)
Forward - Tyler Toffoli (Jr Canadians)
Forward - Drew Collinson (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs)
Forward - Aaron Pearce (Toronto Marlboros)

Goaltender - Jon Hubacheck (Brampton Battlion)
Defense - Adam Pelech (Toronto Marlboros)
Defense - Michael Zanardo (Toronto Red Wings)
Forward - Matthew Campbagna (Mississauga Rebels)
Forward - Connor Crisp (York-Simcoe Express)
Forward - Scott Laughton (Toronto Marlboros)

F. McCool Memorial Award (best overall team player)

Midget - Kevin Closs (Soo North Stars)
Bantam - Freddie Hamilton (Toronto Marlboros)
Peewee - Tim Tanahill (Lambton Jr Sting)

One of the truly enjoyable components of the Big Nickel Hockey Tournament, outside of the obvious on-ice competition, is the opportunity to peruse the yearly program in search of noteworthy names who will have the chance to enjoy Sudbury hospitality for an extended weekend. Following is a cross-section of names I came across in this year's search:

Big Nickel Notepad: Former Sudbury Wolves forward Terry Chitaroni returned to the area once again at the helm of the Superior Eagles Midget team, benefitting from a much more competitive team than he has fielded in the past few years... OHL commissioner David Branch and family (assistant coaches Wade, Kyle and Barclay Branch) were behind the bench of the Whitby Wildcat Bantams...former Sudbury Wolves defenseman Jim Koudys, now a firefighter in the Hamilton area, is taking his crack at coaching his son (Patrick) with the Hamilton Jr Bulldog Bantams...

....former NHL defenseman Jeff Beukeboom is Head Coach with the Central Ontario Wolves of the Bantam Division... former Toronto Maple Leaf (and a few other NHL outposts) forward Steve Thomas is an assistant coach with the Toronto Marlboro Bantams, joining forces with his former junior teammate and Garson-Falconbridge native Garry Lacey who serves as team manager...

While the tournament will occasionally find itself in need of an extra dressing room due to female players suiting up with some of the Peewee entries (York-Simcoe Express had a pair of girls on the roster), it's quite unusual to see any young ladies playing "AAA" hockey at the Bantam or Midget ranks. But Oakville Bantam Rangers goaltender Ali Binnington is not only the lone member of the fairer sex on her team, she's also the only minor-aged player to have cracked the roster.

Binnington is hardly a stranger to the Rangers crew. "I've been playing AAA hockey since I was in Novice so I decided to keep going for as long as I could," she said after a game Saturday afternoon. While she acknowledges that this may well be the year in which she crosses to the girls hockey ranks, she remains pleased with her performance to date.

"Things are going alright...I haven't seen much of a difference from last year," notes the 5'7" thirteen year-old. She provides this self-assessment. "I'm tall, so I cover a fair bit of the net but I'm still pretty good down low."

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Article Archive:
Huard steals the show, from a local perspective, at OFSAA

Medal Count continues to rise for Lady Wolves
St Benedict still the team in beat in 2008
Four more NOHA crowns claimed locally...and AAA Wolves shine on the road

Applefest 2007 provides healthy crop of medals for Lady Wolves
High-School Football Predictions - 2007
Exciting finals highlight Big Nickel closing day
A look at the Onaping Falls Huskies and NOBHL Showcase Results

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