Not every hockey goaltender has ice running through his or her veins, but for the ones that do, it sure is a nice advantage.
As the seconds ticked down on a 3-2 Valley East Fountain Tire Mighty Pucks win over the West Nipissing Laurentide Golf Course Sting in the Atom ¡°A¡± Don Logan divisional final of the VEMHA (Valley East Minor Hockey Association) Tournament Sunday in Val Caron, netminder Xavier Abbott appeared as cool as a cucumber.
As his elated teammates surrounded him, he smiled, his arms calmly at his side. No dramatic fist pump, no stick thrown in the air, no crazy screams of happiness. It¡¯s that same steady demeanor that proved so helpful in helping to backstop his team to victory.
¡°If you get too worried, then you don¡¯t do everything right,¡± Abbott noted after the contest. ¡°If I¡¯m not calm, the people that have the puck are going to score.¡± Thankfully for the Mighty Pucks, a two goal effort from Mika Giroux and a single goal from Samuel Aubin provided just enough cushion to offset West Nipissing tallies from Cole Demers and Gary Bryan.
And if it wasn¡¯t Abbott that was closing the door on the Sting, then it was his defencemen who so often came to his aid. ¡°They made sure that the other team, when they have the puck, don¡¯t shoot on me,¡± said Abbott. ¡°They made sure to stop them. I tried to stay out, with my stick on the ice, and always stay calm.¡±
Given the number of nail biter gold medal games, the young puckstopper was likely doing a better job than many of the fans on hands for the tournament. Back to back overtime affairs preceded the Atom ¡°A¡± matchup, as Kellan Taillefer-Malette netted his second goal of the game five minutes into the extra session, lifting Timmins Sling Choker past North Bay Pizza Hut 4-3 in the Novice ¡°B¡± (Logan Division) final.
Similar story for Valley East King Sportswear in the Novice ¡°C¡± (Steven Philippe Division) showdown, with Kade Carrey netting his second of the game at 2:24 of overtime, giving his team a 4-3 triumph over VEMHA Black 2 Green Mean Machine.
Gabrielle Roy and Anika Rheaume added one goal apiece for the winners, with Brady White (2) and Lennox Therrien answering for the Meanies. The Espanola Eagles laid claim to the Novice ¡°B¡± Logan Division banner, blanking North Bay Top Gun Roofing 2-0 as Ryker Gaudreau handled all of the scoring.
The offense was plentiful in the Novice ¡°A¡± Philippe grand finale, but it was the playmaking that really stole the show. Valley East Cousin Vinny¡¯s Vipers teammates Parker Schiewek and Jayden Bretschnider combined on a lovely give and go to open the scoring, setting the tone in a shootout that finished 7-4, the Vipers stopping the Valley East Toppers Pizza Titans.
Cameron Quesnal paced the attack for the winners with a hat trick, Schiewek added a pair, and Bretschnider and Cameron Paquette capped things off. The Titans countered with goals from Charlie Caissie, Brett Rienguette, Tyler Brouse and Jason Roberts.
Over at Centennial Arena in Hanmer, the Atom ¡°B¡± crew were not swaying all that far away from script as Valley East Cousin Vinny¡¯s edged the Coniston Flames 2-1, with Caleb Soucy burying a pair of goals to make the difference for the hometown kids. Kadan Villeneuve managed to get Coniston on the board as the teams battled it out right down to the final buzzer.
A more wide open affair would see the Onaping Falls Huskies trim the West Ferris Shark Mobile 5-3 in the Atom ¡°B¡± Logan Division championship encounter. The tandem of Cohen Allair and Owen Bouchard combined to hit the mark no less than five times, with Allair enjoying a three goal performance, finishing just one marker ahead of Bouchard.
West Ferris answered with a pair of goals courtesy of Sebastien Lagace, while Kaden Giroux added a solo tally. The Copper Cliff Redmen Sevens blanketed the Coniston Joel Rona Flames with Novice ¡°A¡± Logan Division bragging rights on the line, whitewashing their opponents 4-0. Ezio Cusinato showed the way with a pair of goals, with teammates Mattaio Massimiliano and Matteo Spadafora joining him on the scoresheet.
The last game of the day in Hanmer provided a good reason for the team that came the furthest to stick around as La Sarre (Quebec) Advantage Chrysler claimed the Atom ¡°A¡± Philippe hardware with a 2-1 win over Valley East State Group.
Anthony Levesque snapped a 1-1 tie with 1:19 remaining in the contest to send the team from La Belle Province home happy, after Theo Danis (Ls Sarre) and Logan Bodson (State) traded goals earlier in the game.
The Hockey Canada changes to cross-ice competition would mean that a total of thirty tyke teams would partake in a Saturday afternoon Jamboree, an absolute treat for the crowd that jammed into the Ray Plourde Arena to witness three simultaneous games at 25 minute intervals.
Once again this year, tournament organizers in the Valley received plenty of positive feedback with their creative scheduling process, one that emphasizes working towards evenly matched finals as teams battle their way into various tiers right across the spectrum.