The 2008 minor hockey age grouping in Greater Sudbury is, by all accounts, a deep and talented group.
Turns out the same came be said, apparently, for the crew from Sault Ste Marie.
The Soo Atom "AA" Greyhounds, coached by former Sudbury Wolves' forward Terry Chitaroni, captured the NOHA championship banner over the weekend at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex, stopping the Nickel City Atom "AA" Jr Sons 4-1 in the gold medal encounter.
The Hounds raced out to a 3-0 first period lead on goals from Nikolas Rossetto, Espen Escasa and Aiden Atkinson. And when Russell Ranger narrowed the lead to just two goals early in period two, the champions countered, as Nathan Dupuis scored less than two minutes later.
From there, it was up to goaltender Payton Melchiorre, with a stellar 23 save performance (13 in the third period alone) to hold coach Jason Young and the Jr Sons at bay, earning a berth at the OHF playdowns in Belle River in early April.
The Greyhounds advanced to the final after upending the Copper Cliff Redmen 7-3, with Rossetto recording the hat trick and Danny MacDonald adding a pair of markers for the winners.
Lincoln Lachance, Jameson Fabbro and Matthew Trottier replied for a Copper Cliff team that produced the rare local feat of emerging triumphant at the International Silver Stick Tournament back in January.
The remaining NOHA semi-final would see Nickel City defeat the Timmins Epitron North Stars 6-1, with Noah Lafrance and Dylan Rousselle scoring two goals apiece for the Sons. Xander Strojny and Brett Moxam capped things off with one goal each, while Alex Levasseur replied in a losing cause for Timmins.
Meanwhile, the Kapuskasing Atom Icehawks rode a three goals/two assists effort from Lex Lamontagne to a 7-2 victory over the Temiskaming Shores Wilson Chevrolet Puckhounds, returning home from Sudbury with the NOHA Atom "A" banner safely in hand.
Nicholas Beadow, Jaxon Beauchamp, Alexy Bourgon and Noah Ouimette joined Lamontagne on the scoresheet for the Kap crew, with Logan Rivard and Tristan Roy bulging the twine for the Puckhounds.
Both finalists will make their way to the OHF tournament in this division, given that Kapuskasing is serving as one of ten host communities, across the province, on the weekend of April 12th to 14th.
Up in Timmins, the Sudbury Bantam "AA" Wolves booked their tickets to the provincial showcase, trimming the West Ferris Trappers 3-2 in the final after slipping past the Nickel City Bantam "AA" Jr Sons 2-1 in semi-final action earlier in the day.