With his team trailing 2-1 early in the third period of their championship game on Sunday, Antoine Ouellette was particularly attentive to the instructions of head coach Ben Bast and his staff.
“Our coaches told us to play like we’re winning, not like we’re losing, because you only score goals when you have a smile on your face,” said Ouellette. While it may not be the exact same advice that Sudbury Wolves’ coach Cory Stillman imparts upon his troops, it worked wonders for the young lads that comprise the Cedar Park Peewee Red Wings.
The team would pull even on a goal from Codey Rivard, with Ouellette taking a feed from Aidan Bedard and burying the game winning goal with 3:24 remaining at the penultimate final of the 2018 SPHL (Sudbury Playground Hockey League) Police Cup at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex, as Cedar Park edged the Lo-Ellen Lightning 3-2.
It turns out that Ouellette wasn’t looking only in the direction of his coaches as he helped his team pull this contest out of the fire, borrowing from a teammate on the gold medal difference maker. “I kind of walked in and saw that there was no one really around me,” he explained.
“We had played Lo-Ellen already this tournament and Codey (Rivard) scored a hat trick, all of them by coming up to the edge of the circle and shooting top shelf, cross side. I tried to re-copy that and it went in.”
The fact that this contest went right down to the wire was hardly a surprise to any of the players involved. “When we play Lo-Ellen during the season, we always tie them, so it’s always a very close game,” noted Cedar Park captain Cale Bast.
A steadying force on the blueline for his team, the 12 year old grade seven student at Northeastern Elementary opted, quite intelligently, to forego a shot through heavy traffic at an open Lo-Ellen net in the final minute of play, helping to seal the victory for the Wings.
“I thought to put it in the corner because it could waste time,” he explained. “If we put it in the corner, we could make a change and have fresh legs.” It’s all part and parcel of a team first approach that has helped the squad welcome five new additions to their lineup this year. “We have five new kids and they fit in really well,” suggested Ouellette.
“I play with a new kid, Patrick, and I love playing with him. He’s a smart hockey player. We all have a way to play together, make sure you pass the puck, no hogging, stuff like that.” The Peewee contest was not the only one that produced a dramatic ending at the annual SPHL in-house tournament.
Gibson Lemelin and Zachary Guthrie scored in the third period as the Long Lake Novice Thunder stormed back from a 1-0 first period deficit, edging the Cedar Park Novice Red Wings 2-1. The Red Wings turned the tables in the Bantam finale, as Kepler Salt netted his second goal of the game with 2:20 remaining, lifting Cedar Park past Lo-Ellen 3-2. Goals by Dylan Thompson and Jonah Bennett had staked the Lightning to a 2-0 lead, with Rafe Walsh cutting that in half midway through period two, setting the stage for the heroics by Salt.
Finally, while the Atom final may not have produced the closest final score, it was easily the most memorable of the day. The Lo-Ellen Park Lightning chalked up a 5-1 victory over the Algonquin Hawks, a triumph made all the more special with a surprise appearance from a former teammate.
Matthew Tripodi had played with the Lightning last year, but has been battling Burkitt’s Lymphona, keeping the youngster out of hockey for the 2017-2018 season. Thankfully, he was feeling well enough recently to attend the final, adorned with his team sweater, and was on hand to distribute the championship medallions after the contest.
William Moore scored twice to pace the Lo-Ellen attack, with Spencer Curich, Reed Montgomery and Thomas Arsenault chipping in with one goal apiece, while Noah Pellerin countered with the only Algonquin goal in a losing cause.
Apparently, the SPHL did not hold a monopoly on dramatic finishes yesterday as medal games at the Andrew Desjardins Classic in Walden also kept the fans glued to the edge of their seats. The RBC Diggers and Gore Bay Bruins were tied at two, forcing overtime in the Atom final when Darren Joiner settled matters for the Diggers, netting the winner with 13 seconds to play in the three on three segment.
Lucas Coufal and Hayden Barton recorded one goal apiece for the winners, with Jackson Chevrette and Cody Campbell answering for the Bruins. The Peewee final avoided overtime, just barely, as Legend Boats held off a furious late rally from Carmen Construction, picking up a 3-2 win.
Goal scorers for Legend Boats included Jacob Jones, with a pair, and Bradley Halonen, while Owen MacDonald and Russell Joiner hit the mark for Carmen Construction. In Novice action, two goal efforts by both Jackson Barrette and Caleb Therrien proved to be the difference as the Rayside Wildcats clipped Walden Powertraxx 5-3.
Kaden Tonin capped off the offense for the Wildcats, while Connor Westaway handled the entire attack for the Powertraxx crew, registering a hat trick. Fittingly, the Bantam final that wrapped everything up featured a conclusion that was every bit as wild as its predecessors – and more. A goal late in the second period by Alessio Capasso of the Coniston Flames stood as the only marker on the game, with time dwindling down quickly on the Walden Lund Rebels.
But with their goaltender on the bench for an extra attacker, Nevan Beaulieu would draw his team even, Deon McGregor picking up the only assist. Yet another overtime contest seemed all but a given. But with exactly 14.0 seconds showing on the scoreboard, the Flames responded, courtesy of an unassisted strike from Devin Zloty.