Atom AA Capture the Ajax Break The Ice Championship, News (Oshawa Minor Hockey)

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Atom AA - Atom AA Capture the Ajax Break The Ice Championship
Submitted By Atom AA Mgr on Tuesday, September 11, 2018
The AA Atom Minor Generals, led by Head Coach Terry Rayner participated in the Ajax Break the Ice Tournament this past weekend and with five undefeated games, they managed to come home with the Championship.

Rewinding one week prior, as the gates of the CNE were closing, the end of summer burgers were being consumed and while the boys were catching walleye from the dock, watching the waves roll off the rocks, coaches all over Oshawa were preparing their first practice plan.  In a flash, it was here; the 2018-19 season was upon us and there was very little time to prepare for a season opening tournament.


We began our season on Tuesday after Labour Day with a practice; the only one that we would participate in to get us ready for our tournament in Ajax.  Two nights later, we were faced with an opening game match-up against the Peterborough Petes in our hometown, down south at Canlan Ice Sports.  We controlled the game from the onset and just under halfway through the first period, #71 Jackson Walker potted his first of three on the night and the boys cruised to a 5-0 win against the Petes.  Sam Groeneveld chipped in with a pair of his own (including an empty netter) which certainly helped the cause for goaltender Colton Morin's amazing performance and first shutout of the season.


After three extremely tiresome days at school, the boys got just what they needed; a day off and an 11:45am game in Pickering at Village Arena to face the Stouffville Clippers.  Once again, the Gens captured the game winning goal mid-way through the first period, where #8 Kayle Rayner shoveled a rebound past the Stouffville net minder.  A few minutes later, #53 Jake Weatherbee fired a quick wrist shot over the goalie’s blocker to capture the insurance marker and grab that two goal lead.  Defenders, J.D Bastarache and Ben Delaney chipped in with singles of their own in the second and third period respectively.  Goaltender Kieran Chan-Langille cruised to a 4-0 shutout win and looked solid for the entire game.


Finishing off the round robin games, it was an early start on Saturday to face the tournament host, Ajax Knights at 8am in Pickering.  With a bit of unfortunate luck, two Oshawa goals were called back in the first two periods and the teams remained scoreless after two.  With just over seven minutes left in the game, #55 Easton Gauthier managed to put the Gens on top by a score of 1-0.  Considering how our defensive game had been evolving over the last eight periods, we were all pretty confident that this lone goal would be enough to hang on for the win.  However, just a couple minutes later, an Ajax winger was left alone in the high slot and absolutely ripped a beautiful wrist shot over the shoulder of goaltender Morin, to bring the teams to a 1-1 tie.  Neither team could muster up the winning goal in the final five minutes of the game.  However, the tie managed to put us in first place with an undefeated 2-0-1 record, which was good enough for five points and a rematch in the semi-final with the fourth place Knights.


After a four hour 'Fortnite Break', the team gathered back at Don Beer Arena for their semi-final rematch against Ajax.  The Gens came out to a flying start and managed to pot a pair on their second shift of the game.  The first, originally credited to ‘net-crasher’ #76 Ty Harnum, was later changed by the official scorer to #87 Owen Fulton.  Fulton's beautiful centering pass to Harnum actually went off the Ajax defender’s skate and into the goal.   Seventeen seconds later Groeneveld fired a wrist shot past the goalkeeper and we were off to a flying start.  Ajax responded with one later in the first period and neither team managed to find the net in the second frame.  Taking a 2-1 lead into the third felt very comfortable for the boys, as their defensive play had been stellar all weekend long.  With a few minutes expired in the third period, #17 Matt Barrese dangled around the lone defenseman at the blue line and made an equally impressive move on the goalkeeper to put the Gens up by two.  Gauthier would add one late in the game with less than two minutes to play and the boys really cruised to another win and more importantly a berth in the Championship Game.


Following our game, Stouffville managed to defeat Peterborough in the other semi-final and we now had our opponent set for 2:30pm on Sunday afternoon.  The boys had a quiet confidence looming in the dressing room as they prepared for their game.  They understood their previous 4-0 defeat of Stouffville earlier on in the round robin, but were careful to not be too confident. 


Just over one minute into the game, the line of Walker, Weatherbee and Barrese forced a turnover at the offensive blue line.  Weatherbee came up with the puck, walked in and fired a backhander on the low blocker side of the goalie to grab the lead.  With a 1-0 lead heading into the second period, #13 Logan McIlwaine would pot his first of two just over a minute into the period.  Then, with just over a minute to play in the second it was McIlwaine's second to put the Gens up by two in the Championship Game.  Stouffville managed to get a couple goals in the final period, however, Walker would respond with his fourth of the tournament and give Oshawa a 4-2 lead.  The impressive defensive play of these boys continued for the final six minutes of the game and as the final buzzer rang, the boys and coaches celebrated their first Championship of the season.


All-in-all it was a fantastic showing for these 17 boys, who played five very solid defensive games, allowing only four goals in five games and only one of those being an even strength goal.  The defensive pairings of Vrain Rikhi and Ben Delaney, Jake Sutton and J.D. Bastarache and Gavin Mercer and Lukas Bachly were certainly the backbone of these five games and their strong play contributed immensely to an overly successful weekend.  The future for this team looks very encouraging as we embark on the 2018-19 season and there is a strong sense of excitement amongst the coaches, players and parents.


Congratulations boys!


Brian Weatherbee

Assistant Coach

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