Chapman's Ice Cream Atoms Impress In Weekend Action At The SCTA Tournament, News, Atom, 2012-2013 (Grey-Bruce Highlanders AAA Minor Hockey Association)

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Chapman's Ice Cream Atoms Impress In Weekend Action At The SCTA Tournament
Submitted By David Black on Tuesday, March 12, 2013
This past weekend, the Highlander Atoms travelled to Grimsby to represent Grey and Bruce Counties in the league tournament to determine which teams would advance to the OMHA finals. What a weekend it was. The boys would lose just one game over the tournament while just missing the opportunity to advance. However, the games were as thrilling and close as any hockey I have seen.

The weekend started on Friday morning against the Brampton 45's and this game set the tone for the rest of the weekend. After an opening 8 minutes where Brampton threw everything they had at the Highlanders, the boys were slowly turning the momentum around. Kinch (Bruce Penninsula) was forced to make several excellent stops until the boys got going. With 1:42 left in the first, Leblanc(Mt. Forest) would open the scoring and from there, the boys didn't look back. They would add one in the second and three more in the third to secure a dominating 5-0 win.

After a light lunch, the team hunkered down at the hotel and started their preparations for the soaring Southern Tier Admirals. The Admirals finished the season with a loss to Burlington, however, prior to that, had gone undefeated in 21 games. The Highlanders were every bit equal to the Admirals on this day. The Highlanders skated stride for stride against this tough team and did not back down from any of the physical play. Prues (Hanover) was exceptional in net providing very few second chances for the Admirals. Midway through the first, the Admirals would open the scoring on an excellent shot from in close. The Highlanders would not lose focus of the task at hand and continued to play the style of hockey coach Goldie has been teaching all year. They were quickly rewarded 2½ minutes later as Crowley (Flesherton) would square things at one. Before the period was over, Rahn (Durham) would notch his second goal of the tournament to give the Highlanders a 2-1 lead. Midway through the second, the Admirals battled back and scored 4 minutes apart to take a 3-2 lead. The Highlander Atoms gave it their all, battling extremely hard trying to find the equalizer. The Highlanders produced several chances and goalmouth scrambles but luck was not on their side today. The Admirals would sneak away with the 3-2 win. You could look back at this battle and claim that it took enough out of Admirals that they would not win again in this tournament and despite being the top team in our pool, failed to qualify for Sunday's action.

The Highlander boys would retreat back to the hotel for a light swim, some dinner and an early curfew as they were still very much alive in this tournament. With the team asleep, the parents would set up shop in the board room as discussions amongst them were mostly focused on the two great games they had just witnessed.

Early Saturday, and the Highlanders were back at the rink to take on the Burlington Eagles. The Eagles are another team that finished extremely strong, losing just twice in their final 15 games. Both teams came out flying, producing great end to end hockey. It was a battle throughout as the Highlanders had leads on four different occasions only to see Burlington come back to even the score. The last Burlington goal coming with just: 56 seconds left. With just a tie on Friday, Burlington found themselves in a must win situation but could not dispose of these pesky Highlanders. With the game ending in a 4-4 tie, Burlington found themselves eliminated from any chance to play for the OMHA title. However, the way things were unfolding, the Highlanders were STILL very much in contention with only Hamilton standing in the way of a playoff game on Sunday.

Hamilton had tied both their games on Friday and as tiebreakers work, knew that a Highlander win would eliminate them from the tournament. The three games the Highlanders had behind them, played a big part in eliminating those teams. Would they have anything left in the tank to fight the Bulldogs. Hamilton was fresh as this was their first game of the day. Word has it they spent the morning either in a hot tub or at a massage therapist getting ready for this big game. Both teams came out with a sense of urgency to get the job done. However, both played a strong defensive game and the quality scoring chances were few and far between. As the first period wound down the Bulldogs would squeeze one through and hold a 1-0 lead at the break. Early in the second, the Highlanders stepped up their game and would be rewarded as Naves (Bruce Penninsula) would even things at one. Shortly after, the Bulldogs would score twice in a span of 1:13 to take a 3-1 lead. I'm sure most people in the rink felt that this was it and the Highlanders had run out of gas. Hamilton clearly had the lead and momentum and were supposed to be the fresher team. Prues (Hanover) would have none of that though. He slammed the door shut for the remainder of this game giving the Highlanders an opportunity to battle back. Could the Highlanders possibly get a couple more and guarantee themselves a spot in Sunday's playoff finals. Once the Bulldogs had their 2 goal lead, their game plan seemed to change a little. They were sitting back trying to protect it. They were only sending one man in to fore check and were playing very solid in their own end. Before the second was over though, the Highlanders did manage to get one back and narrow Hamilton's lead to one. The Highlanders poured it on in the third, dominating large portions of the ice. With 5:25 left, the line of Shakes (Owen Sound), Colhoun (Kincardine), and Crowley (Flesherton) probably played their best shift of the season and produced the equalizer squaring things at 3. The table was set for a wild and crazy finish. The Highlanders seemed to have the Bulldogs on the ropes. They looked tired and confused and seemed to be just trying to hang on. The last 5:00 minutes were played predominately in the Bulldog end with several goalmouth scrambles. It looked like the Highlanders took the lead as Stauffer (Saugeen Shores) would rattle one off the cross bar and drop straight down onto the goal line. As five or six players poured in after the loose puck, it managed to sit until finally knocked to the corner by a frustrated and tuckered Bulldog. There would be two or three more goal mouth scrambles but Hamilton was able to drag themselves to the net in time to clear. As the clock wound down on this game and the Highlander season, one could not help but to be filled with pride at how well this group of boys did over the course of the last few months.

Looking back over the tournament, and all the close chances this team had, you start to realize just how close they were to advancing to the Sunday playoffs and possibly the OMHA tournament. You then start to recollect the hard work and great plays that each and every one of these boys put in to get the Highlanders this close. A few examples are Coghlin (Owen Sound) getting his first goal of the season to go along with his three assists. Or Rahn (Durham) who turned himself into a pretzel and was able to wrestle the puck into the net while laying flat on his back and his stick over his head... From the faceoff circle. Or Leblanc (Mt. Forest) who carries the puck behind the net with 3 Burlington players draped all over him. He then turns and loses them only to pop out the other side and deposit the puck in the net. Or Goldie (Owen Sound) who was constantly on the back-check helping out the defensemen. Any time you thought the other team had an odd man rush, there was Jaden coming out of nowhere to help clear the puck. Or Mikaczo (Creemore) and Naves (Bruce Pennisula) who would both use their speed and strength to race down their respective wings fighting their way into scoring position on many occasions. Or Black (Flesherton) while killing a penalty eats the puck behind his own net. 35 seconds later and the third opponent arriving to try and spring the puck free he ends up drawing a penalty and we're back at even strength. Or VanDolder (Owen Sound) who would consistently grab the puck while the Highlanders were under siege in their own end. Instead of panicking, Reid would slowly weave his way around opponents and get the puck to centre and deposit it safely out of harm’s way. Reid was also great using his make a save. In the game against Burlington, with 4 seconds left and two Burlington players all alone in front Kinch made a huge initial save to keep the game alive. Reid scrambles to the net to help his goalie and manages to get his head in front of the rebound shot and makes the save with still 2 seconds remaining in the game. Or Krueger (Owen Sound) who thwarted many scoring chances for the other team. Brayden was very responsible in our own end and played his position perfectly. Or Wall (Kincardine) and his bullet shot. Zach was always a threat from the point, especially on the power play. Or Woods (Owen Sound) who is one of the most improved players on this team. Jesse developed the confidence to carry the puck through several players showing patience as he quite often was able to gain the red line and clear the puck deep into the other teams zone and allow the fore check to go to work. Or DuPont (Collingwood) who played a tough style all year. Jack is a year younger, yet didn't look out of place at all. Jack did a fabulous job around our net and was called upon on many occasions to step up and protect our goalies. His biggest regret is probably the fact it isn't pee wee hockey and his ability to use the body check as a weapon. Or Stauffer (Saugeen Shores) who as mentioned came within an eyelash of getting us through to Sunday. Or Crowley (Flesherton) who had his scoring touch come to life and pot 3 big goals over the weekend. Or Shakes (Owen Sound) as the team’s best face off man, Sammy was instrumental centering his line and creating some big goals over the weekend. Or Colhoun (Kincardine) who produced his best hockey when it mattered most. How Liam got himself up off the ice after the Hamilton defenseman dropped his shoulder onto his chin while in full flight is still a mystery. Not to be intimidated, Liam bounced up and was part of the trio that produced the tying goal against Hamilton. Lastly, our two goalies, Prues (Hanover) and Kinch (Bruce Penninsula). They have been consistent all year and this tournament was no different. They both played at the top of their game all weekend and are a big reason why this team got as close as it did. Also, the penalty killing units. Over the course of this tournament, they allowed only 2 goals on 19 chances. The bench staff should also be mentioned. All season, they have conducted themselves in a very professional manner and this tournament was no different. As the parents go ballistic and the roof sometimes seems like it is caving in, you look over and there are the coaches doing their thing. Oblivious to all the commotion, instructing the boys with the same quiet demeanor that helps to build confidence in the players. When needed, they sometimes speak up to protect the players and to show them that we are all in this together.

Overall, it was a very successful tournament and rewarding experience for both the boys and parents.
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