Highlanders Midgets Claim SCTA League Championship in Dramatic Overtime Thriller, News, Midget, 2013-2014 (Grey-Bruce Highlanders AAA Minor Hockey Association)

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Highlanders Midgets Claim SCTA League Championship in Dramatic Overtime Thriller
Submitted By dvanooteghem on Thursday, March 13, 2014
The Grey Bruce Highlanders Garb and Gear Midgets won 6 straight games this past weekend to win their SCTA League Championship. 

The Highlanders ended their regular season schedule on a hot streak heading into their league championship with a record of 10-1-3 for the month of February finishing solidly in second behind Oakville Rangers. A second place finish placed in them in a pool with 1st place Oakville, 8th place Guelph and 9th place Niagara North for the championship tournament hosted this year by the Grey Bruce Highlanders.

On the first day, Grey Bruce faced the Guelph Gryphons and the Niagara Northstars and defeated them with identical 5-0 scores. On day two the Highlanders faced Oakville which was expected to be the most entertaining game in the tournament - 1st vs 2nd place and league rivals. The game did not disappoint and was very energetic from the opening face-off with lots of great scoring chances on both ends. At the end of the second however, Oakville was clinging to a 2-1 lead knowing that like previous encounters between these 2 clubs, this lead was fragile at best and that the third period would be the difference maker. The Highlanders came out flying and tied the game mid-way through the third before icing the game late in the period, skating away with a 3-2 victory and securing top seed in the semi-final round.

Game four of the round robin would not factor into the semi-final seeding but nonetheless the Midgets wanted to finish strong and take the momentum into Sunday and they did so by beating Guelph 7-1 on the strength of an excellent team game.

After all the round robin dust settled the semi-finals had Grey Bruce playing Hamilton and Oakville playing Brampton. Every tournament typically has a team that surprises. This year the 7th place Hamilton Bulldogs were that team going undefeated in round robin play (1-0-3) and sending the 3rd, 5th and 6th place teams packing. The Highlanders had played Hamilton well all year and expected nothing different on Sunday. Whether it was nerves, excitement of a combination of both the game did not go as planned. Hamilton traded goal for goal with Grey Bruce and at one point the Highlanders found themselves down and pressing to tie things up. On the strength of 3 power play goals Hamilton kept the game very interesting. Not to be disappointed on reaching their goal to advance to the finals, Grey Bruce rallied hard and scored late in the third to win the game 4-3 securing their spot in the championship game against the Oakville Rangers.

Traditionally the SCTA qualifier tournament does not host a championship game since the winners of both semi-final matches automatically advance to the OMHA final tournament. This year however, the league changed this tradition and decided to award a league champion, the first in its history, so I am told.

The boys packed up their bags and made their way over to the Bayshore with the expectation that Rangers would be coming out strong to avenge their loss to the Highlanders earlier in the tournament. And just as expected oakville got the jump on the Highlanders early and Grey Bruce found themselves down 1-0 after the first shift. Oakville built up a 2-0 lead before our Midgets responded scoring late in the second to leave Oakville with a 2-1 lead after 2. Sound familiar? - Could Grey Bruce do it again? - Come from behind in the 3rd to claim victory? Well, let me tell you it didn't look good. With just over a minute left in regulation, the Highlander coaching staff exercised their right for a 30 second time out. With the face-off deep in the Ranger's end and with their goalie pulled in favour of the 6th attacker, Grey Bruce pounded in a rebound off a point shot sending the game into overtime.

The first overtime solved nothing other than to test the endurance and determination of both teams and the nerves of the fans. The third and final overtime period began and continued as the previous 2 overtime periods albeit at a much more deliberate and cautious pace, neither team wanting to make mistakes. It wasn't until the last minute of the 3rd overtime period when on a rush a shot that the Oakville Ranger goalie couldn't handle was dropped and poked over the goal line for the game and championship winner.  At the sight of the referees signal indicating a goal, the Highlander bench erupted and players spilled on to the ice tossing equipment around like an Owen Sound yard sale.

Finally!!!!  What a well deserved and long overdue championship for this team of outstanding young, talented hockey players and their not so young coaching and team staff.

The Highlanders make their way to Oakville on Friday, March 14, 2014 where they will challenge the top 2 teams from the Eastern AAA (ETA) Division and top 2 teams from the SCTA Division for the OMHA Midget AAA Championship.

Special thanks to the tournament organizers and many volunteers for their time to make this a such a successful event both on and off the ice.  

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