The news off the ice was every bit as good as the action on the ice as the twenty teams that make-up the Sudbury Playground Hockey League gathered at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex for the 10th annual edition of the Police Cup tournament.
End to end rushes on rinks one and two were taking place in tandem with a mad rush to fill the baskets being collected for the Sudbury Food Bank, with the group finishing in the neighbourhood of 4000 pounds of food collected, to go along with another $2500 or so in cash donations as well.
Meanwhile, the Sunday finals kicked off with the Cedar Park Red Wings doubling the Westmount Wolverines 4-2 as Dane Nielson recorded the hat trick, leading the way for the winners. Nora Ouellette chipped in with the remaining goal for Westmount, while Mathew Dιmorι accounted for all of the offense for Cedar Park with a two goal effort.
In the Atom gold medal affair, goals by Josh Simonato, Cavan Clarke, Daniel Fruewald and Scott McCann was more than enough to propel the McFarland Lakers to a 4-1 victory over the Algonquin Hawks, as John Contini spoiled the shutout bid in a losing cause for the Hawks.
The Lo-Ellen Park Lightning peewees salvaged one championship banner for the south end playground, dumping the Red Wings 4-1 in the penultimate contest of the day. Quentin Emley (2), William Arsenault and Matthew Paventi found the back of the net for LOE, with Emmett Thomson foiling the Lightning shutout bid with the only marker for the Wings.
The signs pointed to a fairly competitive bantam final in the early going as goals from Jacob Pellerin (a pretty individual effort) and Kevin Watson (tucking a nifty backhand upstairs) gave the Algonquin Hawks a 2-0 lead over the Lo-Ellen Lightning after one period of play.
But by the time the excitement of the first Lo-Ellen goal had subsided, with Alex Flannagan jamming home a pretty feed from Jack Zilio, Algonquin had more than just countered, offsetting the one goal against with tallies from Pellerin, with his second, as well as Gianluca Ongaro and Austin Mader.
The Hawks expanded on their 5-1 lead in the third, capping things off with goals from Ethan Roy and Victor Bulic, as their well-balanced attack could not be slowed down, cruising to a 7-1 triumph. Part of a core of players that have competed as Algonquin teammates dating back to their days as novice skaters, defenseman Eric Dixon explained that the mindset that has prevailed, pretty much since the outset, has not changed all that much in their teenage years.
I think it's pretty much the same as it's always been, noted the grade 9 student at St Charles College. We just go out there and try and have fun playing hockey. It's not really competitive with playground. It's not really stressful I don't have to practice four times a week. It's just on weekends.
While many SPHL onlookers were expecting a Cedar Park Algonquin bantam final, Dixon suggested that the Hawks were not about to take the upset-minded Lightning for granted. I thought it would be a lot closer game, he admitted. But we really played as a team today. We passed the puck a lot and made sure not to hog the puck, which makes it easy for them to take the puck away from you and score.
The weekend tournament also marked the last hockey game, at least for a little while, for 10 year old Parker Watson of Westmount Playground. The atom player is suffering from chronic pancreatitis as a result of living with Cystic Fibrosis and leaves next weekend for Minnesota to undergo a 12 hour surgery to remove his pancreas, spleen and gallbladder, while also transplanting islets into his liver.
A Go Fund Me page, which has been established by folks involved with Westmount Playground, can be accessed by logging on to the Westmount Hockey Facebook page.
A whole other group of kids, meanwhile, were also enjoying the Canadian winter time sport over at the T.M. Davies Community Centre in Lively, site of the championship finals on Sunday, as play wrapped up in the Andrew Desjardins Classic (WMHA Houseleague Tournament).
A three goal outburst in the opening period helped life the Val Est Metro Dragons to a 4-1 win over Walden Home Hardware in the Atom gold medal game. Rylee Morris, Braydon Boone and Meeka Duguay all pulled the trigger in the opening frame, with a goal from Medric Gravelle offsetting the lone Walden tally courtesy of Ethan MacIsaac in the win.
The Peewee affair featured even less scoring as Trent Horne snapped a scoreless tie midway through period two and Benoit Landry added a late empty-net goal, allowing Walden Carman Construction to post a 2-0 whitewash victory over the Mindemoya Thunder. Alex Gosselin registered the shutout for the tournament victors.
The Bantam encounter would also go right down to the wire as Matt's Plumbing Walden Buccaneers edged the North Bay Fisher Wavy Trappers 4-3. Lyndon Phillips netted a pair of goals to show the way for the winners, with Nevan Beaulieu and Landon McWhirter adding one goal each, while Evan Wells, Jordan McKillop and Reese Desroches answered for the Trappers.
The Atom division also featured a fun-filled skills competition, with champions crowned in the relay race, the shootout accuracy event, as well as the best breakaway goalie award. The speedsters with Walden Robert's Electrical emerged as relay winners, a quintet comprised of Cowen Lachance, Ryder Villeneuve, Ivan Bonhomme, Keegan Adair and puck-stopper Quinn Thiessen, the latter also copping top honours in the breakaway goalie event.
Apparently Rayside-Balfour is the home of the sharp-shooters, as the Rayside Atomic Tigercats tandem of Ayden Turgeon and Sebastien Beausoleil walked off with bragging rights in the accuracy contest.