Cards take alternate route to OFSAA
by Randy Pascal
Turns out the St Charles College Cardinals graduating seniors on the boys hockey team were not quite ready to call it a career, just yet,
following their loss in the city finals to the Lo-Ellen Park Knights.
The Cards rebounded to lay claim to a NOSSA banner just days later, earning a trip to Kincardine, site of the 2019 OFSAA Boys A/AA Hockey
Championship, by virtue of a season-stretching overtime marker from 18 year-old forward Tayler Bedard.
“That would have been my last game if we didn't score in overtime, so it was definitely awesome,” said Bedard, who will try and cherish every moment,
including the possibility of living to now play another day.
“Every time I go to my backhand on the breakaway, coach usually gets mad at me, because I never score. But for some reason, I thought that move was
going to work and it did. It's my last OFSAA, and to even go to OFSAA is a great experience."
"I want to try and be a good leader, teach the young kids that you might not get another chance at NOSSA or OFSAA, so enjoy it, soak it all in," added
the young man who plans to begin his studies towards becoming an electrician in September at Cambrian College.
For veterans like Bedard, or third year defenceman Braedan Gobbo, the ability to draw on the journey that was the 2018 OFSAA tournament is huge,
even if this year's team arrived at the same goal via a very different path.
"Last year was a pretty special team, we clicked early," said Gobbo. "This year, it took a while for us to click, but I think we finally found it.
Niagara Falls (the tournament), for us, was our Cinderella story. We were clicking there, but then we kind of lost it, a little bit."
Still, a 2-1 victory over the Korah Colts in the NOSSA final would speak volumes about the style of play that is likely to be key if Gobbo and
his mates are to move on to the quarter finals Wednesday afternoon. “We have to focus on our defensive zone coverage, that's our main priority,” he said.
“The scoring will come, Matty (Belanger) and Tayler and those guys can score goals, and that's helping us. And our goaltenders are keeping us in.
Kam (McCue) and “Wally” (Riley Ouellette) have done an amazing job.”
And like Bedard, Gobbo is prepared to offer some words of advice to those who are making this trek for the very first time. "Just listen to the coaches,"
he stated. "If they tell you to correct something, just listen to them. They know what they're doing."
"They've won championships, they know what they're taking about." In fact, in many ways, their words mirror those of the players who know enough to pay
attention. “Number one has got to be goaltending, and I think we have great goaltending, so that's a huge key for us,” coach Rob Zanatta acknowledged.
“When we beat McLaughlin, from Oshawa, they were all over us, but our goaltending was great. Same thing when we beat Dennis Morris. Our top
guys have to got to finish, they have to put the puck in the net. And like it is with every team, if you can get out of your own zone quick and easy, then
you'll be successful.”
"Losing the city championship was deflating, but I'm very proud of how we came back at NOSSA," added Zanatta. "It's a little different feel, because you
don't want to really go in the back door, but we'll take it."
OFSAA results: A tough start has torpedoed the St Charles' chances for a berth in the quarter-finals after the Cards were ambushed 9-2 by
the St Michael's Mustangs from Niagara Falls in their opener, before putting forth a much better effort in dropping a 3-1 decision to the defending
champion King City Lions later in the day.
Riley Bridge and Jordan Faught handled the scoring in game one, with Bridge scoring again versus the Lions. Goaltender Kameron McCue was
outstanding in the loss to King City, according to coach Zanatta.