Horizon makes first ever appearance at OFSAA Boys Hockey
by Randy Pascal
The only thing better than closing out your competitive hockey career with friends, is closing it out with friends at a provincial championship.
And that is exactly what the likes of Eric Bourassa and Bryce Brunet were doing this week.
Very familiar names to anyone who has followed "AAA" hockey in Sudbury over the course of the past decade or so, Brunet and Bourassa have joined
forces with their schoolmates this year, leading the Horizon Aigles to their first ever OFSAA boys hockey appearance.
"I think the biggest thing about high school was that I wanted to play with my friends this year," said Bourassa, a 17 year-old grade 12 student who
is looking to attend Laurentian University in the fall.
"I kind of drifted away from my gang of Valley hockey. This year, I got to play with all of them, and it's still competitive hockey."
For the Aigles, in fact, it was more than just competitive.
Horizon would top all eleven teams in the regular season SDSSAA standings, posting a record of 13-2-0 and finishing one point clear of the vaunted St Charles College
Cardinals. And though the team would stumble slightly in the post-season, beaten two games to one by the Lo-Ellen Park Knights in their semi-final
series, the Aigles recovered in time to capture the NOSSA "AAA" Boys Hockey banner in Sault Ste Marie.
And they did so against a hometown St Mary's Knights team that had spanked them 6-2 in round robin play.
"We knew that it wasn't going to be an easy game, but we had our whole lineup and we knew that we could do this," said Bourassa. "It was pretty amazing,
especially with this being my last year of competitive hockey."
In many ways, Brunet echoes the thoughts of his teammate. "My career is coming close to an end, so I thought I would have fun in my last year instead of
going more competitive," he said. "It was better hockey than I imagined, better competition, better players than I would have thought."
And it certainly didn't hurt that the Aigles were among the league leaders, almost from the opening drop of the puck. "Our first game against Confed, we
beat them something like 7-1, a pretty big score, and we knew they were a good team the year before and they have good players again this year," recalled
Brunet. "Beating them by that much convinced us that we could do this."
Still, it was not a walk in the park, and most certainly not a casual stroll when it came to facing Lo-Ellen Park, specifically. "We thought we were
going to beat Lo-Ellen, obviously, but they came out strong and we came out weak," said Brunet.
"They got in our heads and once that happened, we stopped moving our feet, we got away from our game plan, we kind of let them just take over from
there," added Bourassa. And as they now envision their one final shot, seeded 16th in a 16-team field by virtue of being the only "A" school competing at a
tournament that brings together the top "AAA" schools in the province, the leadership group offers just one piece of advice.
"I want our whole team to feel like we gave it everything we had and there's no regrets," said Bourassa.
Results Update: Unfortunately, the toll of playing up two levels would become apparent in Barrie. The Aigles dropped their opener, 5-1, to
the Neil McNeil Maroons from Toronto, as Sébastien Lalonde netted the only goal for the locals.
A second straight tough outing for the Horizon lads as they are toppled 8-2 by the Jean Vanier Knights (Milton), with Cameron Mundy and
Eric Frappier pulling the trigger in a losing cause.
Becoming somewhat more accustomed to the pace of play, the Aigles were doubled 6-3 by the Waterdown Warriors in their final OFSAA outing, with
Caleb Rainville, Andrew Demers and Eric Frappier finding the back of the net for coach Brian Dubé and company.