It was a pretty productive two week mid-February stretch for the Rayside Balfour Major Peewee Tigers, picking up tournament victories on back to back weekends. The streak started on home ice, when the Tigers picked up the championship banner in the Rayside Tournament, beating out four other teams.
The Tigers opened with an 11-0 trashing of the Walden Devils, but were doubled 4-2 by the Soo Auroras in game two. The team rebounded to register consecutive game shutouts, blanking the Sudbury Bulldogs (5-0) and the Nickel Centre Flyers (2-0).
With Sault Ste Marie, Nickel Centre and Rayside all tied with records of 3-1, the Tigers were slotted against the Auroras for a second time, placing second. A mirror image of game one as Rayside outscored the Soo 4-2, advancing to the finals against Nickel Centre.
The team showcased their defensive talents once again, duplicating their round robin performance with another 2-0 win over the Flyers as goaltenders D.J. Leblond and Jacob Chartrand finished tournament play with two shutouts apiece.
Offensively, the Tigers were powered by Zacharie Thibault and Korbin Cecchini-McAuley, with seven and six goals respectively, while Kyle Allair (4), Nicolas Chiasson (3), Matthieu Verreault (2) and Dylan Goulet (2) also chipped in on the attack.
"It was an outstanding effort by the whole team," noted head coach Rick Poitras. "The kids played really well in the semi-final to redeem themselves against the Soo and grab some momentum for the final."
Not nearly as close to home seven days later as the Peewee lads board a bus to Montreal, site of the 2011 Montreal Canadian Cup Tournament. A smaller division than the week before, with a little more disparity top to bottom, but that didn't stop the Tigers from repeating their championship winning ways.
Spotting St Alban's (Vermont) a 1-0 lead, the Tigers stormed back with five unanswered goals to kick things off. A second straight slow start proved more costly in game two as the hometown Brossard Bulldogs bolted to a 3-0, hanging on for a 3-2 victory as Rayside-Balfour mounted a furious rally over the final few minutes of play.
Needing a win to advance to the finals, the Peewee Tigers left nothing to chance, stomping the Seaway Valley Ice breakers (Long Sault) 8-0 in a contest that featured the first goal in three years by defensive defenseman Kristopher Small.
Battling a Bulldogs team that had only lost twice all season, the Rayside lads were more than ready, taking charge from the outset and upending "les Québecois" 4-1. Goulet was front and centre with a seven-goal tournament, while Verreault and Cecchini-McAuley added four goals apiece.
"I can't say enough about the team effort", said Poitras. "The kids really wanted this one and, with a complete team effort, made it happen." The 2010-2011 Rayside-Balfour roster includes Zachary Peterson, Nicolas Chiasson, Matthieu Verreault, Preston Lewis, Kristopher Small, Korbin Cecchini-McAuley, Dylan Goulet, Zackary Lessard, Kyle Allair, Zacharie Thibault, as well as goalies D.J. Leblond and Jacob Chartrand.