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Now the Copper Cliff U15 “A” Reds have some local company in the Silver Stick Tournament winner’s circle.

With more than half of the eight “AA” championship finals from Sunday boasting Sudbury and area entries, odds were pretty good that the Reds, who battled their way to a 2-1 win over the Nickel City Sons – White in a gold medal game two weeks ago, earning a trip to Port Huron in the process, were not likely to be the sole squad in this area to be forced to revamp their January travel plans.

With losses only at the hands of the Temiskaming Shores U11 A Puckhounds in Nickel District Minor Hockey League play this season, the Sudbury U10 "AA" Wolves were a reasonably confident lot entering Silver Stick play last Thursday, part of an eight team bracket that included the Kanata Blazers and Guelph Jr Gryphons among the out of town entries.

In the end, it was an all-northern final as the Wolves made it back to back Sunday shutouts, following up a 2-0 semi-final win over Kanata with a 4-0 whitewashing of the Soo Jr Greyhounds.

Nathan Arnold paced the Sudbury attack with a two goal effort with singles coming from cousins Nico and Alex Brujic, while goaltender Sebastien Boyer stepped seamlessly into the pathway that partner Loucas Couture had carved out in the morning, holding the opponents at bay on Championship Sunday.

“We believe we have to win from our net out,” said head coach Damir Brujic, a defenceman with the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats teams of the early 2000s. “We started focusing on our defensive concepts prior to offense.”

Truth be told, Brujic and his staff have clearly raised the bar with this group, a team that he has no challenges defining as “special”. “Our biggest thing this year was focused on puck support,” he said. “Prior to this year, hockey is very individualized. You get the puck and if you’re a great skater, you can wheel your way through four or five guys and score a nice goal and mom and dad are happy.”

“We’ve gone away from that,” Brujic continued. “We want support, puck movement and team play – a concept of togetherness. With this group, teaching them this has actually been a minor challenge. They’re doing a D to D regroup in the neutral zone and getting back up ice as quick as possible.”

“I don’t know if it’s the new NHL on Play Station or not, but these kids understand hockey,” he added with a laugh.

The 2023-2024 Sudbury U10 AA roster also features Mason Aubrey, Dexton Cardinal, Hudson Gray, Cassius Mars, Luke Pavacic, Jaxon Wicklander, Luca Appolloni, Kamden Barlow, Max Clark, Bennet Gertz, Huxley LeClair and Zack Zanatta.

“Special” is also the term that Tyler Huffman might use, having rifled home the tournament winning goal in overtime and sending the Nickel City U15 "AA" Sons to the International Silver Stick showdown in the new year thanks to a 2-1 win over the Cumberland Jr Grads.

“I’ve never felt like this before,” suggested the grade nine student at ES Macdonald-Cartier, who was joined on the scoresheet by teammate Jack Bridgeman, with netminder Nico Guenette standing tall between the pipes. “It’s a pretty exciting moment.”

In fact, the entire overtime session – a set-up that starts four on four for three minutes and works its way down – was a frenzy of activity thanks to penalties called at various times on both teams – with the Sons on the power play (four on three) when Huffman netted the dramatic goal.

“We just tried to set up and umbrella and collapse in on their defense,” said the well-spoken teenager. “That extra attacker obviously helped. I got the puck and kind of spotted the top left corner – so I decided to try and rifle it there and it went in.”

Though the Nickel City crew picked up a big round robin win over Orangeville (6-1), their remaining three games all ended in a tie: 0-0 with Copper Cliff; 2-2 with Cumberland; 2-2 with Sault Ste Marie. No surprise that the playoff round was equally as tight, with the Sons escaping with a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Silver Seven before outlasting the Grads.

“I’ve been with this team since minor atom – I know what this team can do,” said head coach Kevin Bodson. “We have a lot of potential and they showed it out there today. We played really well on both sides of the puck: offensively and defensively. I am very proud of them.”

Jacob Beaudet, Logan Bodson, Kyle Buckland, Brady Carriere, Emmett Croome, Carter Ellsworth, Niko Gladu, Edison Joly, Max Jouppi, Noah Lefrancois, Cameron Paquette, Adrien Potvin, Cameron Quesnel, Carter Rideout and Mikko Toivonen are the remaining contributors to the Nickel City U15 "AA" Sons.

If not for a forgettable opening period of play, the Sudbury U16 “AA” Wolves might have joined the esteemed group of local champions. Outshot badly in the opening frame, the team found themselves trailing the Barrie Colts 3-0 heading into the second. Limiting their opponent to just two shots on net over the next 15 minutes or so of play, Sudbury got one back courtesy of Domenico Malafarina but could draw no closer, ultimately falling 4-1.

The Timmins North Stars took home the U13 AA banner with a 3-2 win over the Copper Cliff Reds while Kanata Blazers put it all together in the U12 AA playoff round, edging the Nickel City Sons before thumping the Copper Cliff Reds 8-0.

The U18 bragging rights went to the Greater Toronto Capitals, 6-2 winners over the Halton Hills Thunder while Tyler Contreras scored twice to lead the Scarborough Young Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Sault Ste Marie U14AA Jr Greyhounds. And finally, the Ottawa Valley Silver Seven doubled the Timmins Kiwanis North Stars 4-2 to take home the hardware from the U13 "AA" bracket.

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