Proving to be quite competitive against the top teams does not mean a whole lot when you lose and tie to the teams below you.
That was the lesson to be learned for the Nickel City Major Bantam "AAA" Sons last week in Orillia, falling short of their goal of advancing to semi-final play at the 2018 All-Ontario Bantam "AAA" Championships.
After going toe to toe with the Waterloo Wolves (3-3 tie) and Ottawa Valley Titans (4-2 loss) in their first two games, matching up well against a pair of teams that cracked the final four, the Sons racked up a huge 4-1 win over the North Central Predators, an adversary who entered the contest undefeated at 2-0.
Coach Chris McInnis and company seemed well on their way to securing a coveted playoff berth.
Disaster would strike on day three, when the Sons were upset 6-5 by the Thunder Bay Kings, the only win of the week for the northwestern Ontario crew. In the end, goals by Devon Savignac, Max McCue, Cameron Walker, Zacharie Giroux and Ethan Marois were not enough to halt the Kings.
The Nickel City lads regrouped well enough on the final day of preliminary round action, trailing the gold medal winning Don Mills Flyers 3-2 after two periods of play, before losing 5-2, and closing out their week with a 2-1 loss to the Whitby Wildcats.
A schedule that would see them finish with games against the first (Don Mills) and third place teams (Whitby) made it tricky to make up for points that might have been earlier in the week.
The Don Mills Flyers, who beat Ottawa Valley 4-3 in overtime in the final, also captured the OHF banner at the Peewee "AAA" level two years ago. The GTHL reps defeated the Nickel City Sons in the gold medal affair in a game that was staged at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Arena, as Sudbury played host to the tournament.
The Flyers roster does include a Sudbury connection, with Oliver Smith suiting up with the GTHL champs. It will now be quite interesting to follow the local 2003 age bracket through their OHL Entry Draft year, boasting a core of talent that many see as the deepest since the 2000 grouping that featured current OHLers Damien Giroux, Billy Moskal and Cameron Lamour.