In all fairness, the better team likely prevailed in the Minor Bantam AA final of the Sudbury Regional Silver Stick tournament late Sunday afternoon.
Sudbury Wolves' goaltender Joe Gouchie was absolutely sensational in helping to hold the powerful Gloucester Rangers scoreless through more than two periods of play, eventually forcing overtime.
And though the second goal of the game from Benjamin Baird, with the teams playing three on three hockey, lifted the Rangers to victory, it did nothing to detract from what was an outstanding weekend of hockey for coach Al Cross and his Sudbury side.
All of which is, of course, very small consolation to the hard working group of 12 and 13 year olds who put their heart and soul into trying to earn a trip to the International Silver Stick in January. Still, Gouchie was able to provide a little perspective on his own personal performance, not long after the final goal was scored.
"Last year, I played the (Nickel City) Sons and faced like 60 shots and got a shutout, and that was just our third win of the season, so I was really happy about that," recalled the grade 8 student at St Charles College, who will be celebrating his 13th birthday later this week.
"This is probably my second best game ever."
It was a feeling that he was not oblivious to, even as the game itself unfolded, with Mattias Saari of Sudbury netting the only goal of the game as the teams prepared for the third period of play. "There was one play, where the guy came in and he passed it over, but my pad and my glove were there," said Gouchie.
"The ref came over and told me that his arm was all ready to call it a goal. That made me feel good."
An undersized goalie by bantam standards, Gouchie has learned to compensate, especially when facing a team loaded with offensive weapons, such as the Gloucester grouping. "I try and get out to the edge of the blue paint, so that I look big," he said. "I try and stay standing, instead of going down all the time."
David Cerezales rounded out the scoring for the winners, with Carter Danyluk sending the contest to overtime for the Wolves, banging home a loose puck with just over three minutes to play.
And while the Sudbury Minor Bantams came ever so close to advancing, there were three local teams that managed to complete that conquest, two of which came in fairly dramatic finals.
The Nickel City Minor Peewee "A" Sharks and the Barrie Colts played through three periods of scoreless hockey, and still could not find the back of the net, even through three minute sessions of four on four and three on three play.
Down to two skaters aside, it was Deric Boisvert of the Sharks who would send the hometown fans into a frenzy, allowing goaltender Hayden Walsh to preserve the shutout as Nickel City trimmed Barrie 1-0, after compiling a pair of ties in round robin play (2-2 vs Sudbury; 1-1 vs Georgina).
"This really showed the resilience of our boys, going game to game," noted head coach Lee Rinaldi. "Throughout the weekend, our motto was "win one shift, one period, one game, one tournament". In a very difficult field of teams, we were able to go undefeated."
Through their five games, including the final, the Sharks surrendered only six goals in total. "Our puck movement throughout the defensive and the neutral zone, as well as our speed and skating were keys to our success, throughout the weekend," said Rinaldi.
Rounding out the Sharks roster are Reegan Purvis, Logan Scott, Mathew Gedye, Shawn Huzij, Brandon Hebert, Lukas Coufal, Owen Blay, Riley Payzant, Luc Beaulieu, Bryan Halonen, Caleb Leclair, Alex Lecuyer, Cohen Allair, Ryan Rinaldi and Rowan McCann.
Though they would not need overtime, the Nickel City Atom "AA" Sons had very little margin for error, avenging a tournament opening 1-0 loss to the North Bay Trappers with a 2-0 victory with gold medals on the line on Sunday, as Blake Chenier and Adrian Potvin scored minutes apart in the third, and Nico Guenette made it stand between the pipes.
"We played really well (in game one), but got unlucky, hitting a cross-bar with about two minutes left in the game," stated Sons head coach Al Chenier. "We had some good pressure on them, but we just couldn't score. In the final, we tried to make sure we were very sound defensively, making sure the kids played their positions, stayed on their side of the ice, keeping a good box in our own zone, and keeping them to the outside."
"They (North Bay) are very good offensively," added Chenier, whose team had lost in the Sudbury Silver Stick final in each of the past two years.
The 2019-2020 edition of the Nickel City Atom AA Sons team also features Emmet Croome, Gillis O'Daiskey, Jack Deshaw, Keiran McCoy, Anders Watson, Tyler Huffman, Hunter Currie, Carter McAllister, Leighton Pelletier, Brett Rienguette, Noah Lefrancois, Tye Newton and Logan Bodson.
For the Nickel City Bantam "A" Sharks, it was all about getting a chance to get tested at the next level. For the second consecutive tournament in northern Ontario, the Sharks absolutely dominated, bouncing the Wawa Travellers 7-3 in earning a trip to Port Huron.
"We've got a solid team built with a lot of equally skilled players, with no real superstars," said former assistant coach John Beals, taking on the main role, behind the bench, in 2019-2020. "Everybody does their job. We're a very good skating team and we work on that a lot in practice. The players will attest to that, sometimes with a bit of chagrin, but it pays off in a tournament like this."
The Nickel Ciyt Bantam A Sharks are Patrick Beals, Brody Cloutier, Ty Cloutier, Guyen De Silva, Kyle Dessureault, Chris Dore, Alex Hachez, Liam Lacroix, Owen Leblanc, William McBride, Nicholas Nadeau, Tanner Rollins, Macie Setterington, Cole Stack, Tyson Violette Cecile, Martin Wissell and tournament call-up Owen MacDonald.
Coming up just short in their bid to move on were the Nickel City Peewee "A" Sharks (dropped a 5-1 decision to the Hearst Lumber Kings), the Nickel City Minor Atom "A" Knights (edged 1-0 by the Barrie Colts), the Nickel City Minor Atom "AA" Jr Sons (blanked 2-0 by the Soo Jr Greyhounds), and the Nickel City Atom "A" Coyotes (losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Tillsonburg Tornadoes).
An equally close affair also brought the curtain down on Countryside rink # 1 late Sunday afternoon (as Gloucester and Sudbury were wrapping things up on rink # 2). A first period goal by Andrew Flamini would stand as Zach St Denis recorded the shutout, propelling the Cumberland Grads to a 1-0 win over the Kapuskasing Regional Express in Bantam AA action.