National Championship Games An Absolute Delight

Well the Festival has one more day until the close with the Novice Provincials being decided tomorrow, but the National portion of the 10 day event came to close on Saturdayevening.  It all started off in the morning with Quebec winning “B” Bronze in Peewee defeating Manitoba 6-5 and Manitoba Bantams beating Quebec 6-3.

Meanwhile the New Brunswick Peewees defeated Saskatchewan 11-2 to capture the “B” Gold Final.  Saskatchewan settled for Silver.  I was able to catch up with the Saskatchewan guys this evening and had a little chat with them:

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While the Peewee game was going on, I was at the Bantam “B” Gold Final, where I found my first of a few “Stars” of the day.  Seeing as it was the last day of the Nationals I decided to hand out a few today.  In the “B” Gold Final, Nova Scotia rode the wave of a very boisterous crowd, complete with the Piper, to a 6-4 victory over Saskatchewan.  My first star of the day today was Nova Scotia goalie, Jonathan Boutin.  The pride of Middle Sackville, Nova Scotia made some key saves while down 2 men, late in the game to secure the win.  I spoke with him and his team mates on the floor after the game:

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I then watched the two “A” round Bronze medal games.  In the Peewee division Iroquois proved to be too much for Alberta winning 7-2, while in Bantam, British Columbia shut out Alberta by a 5-0 score.  Interestingly enough, British Columbia scored all five goals in the first period, and we then went two complete periods with no scoring.

Then the two main events, the Gold Medal Finals.  In Peewee it was Ontario vs. British Columbia and this one did not disappoint.  It wasTeam Ontario going up early, building a 5-2 lead after one period.  But B.C. would shut the door defensively and hold Ontario scoreless in the second period, while themselves scoring four goals.  They each scored twice in the third, and British Columbia captured the Gold, with Ontario settling for Silver.

After this game, I awarded my second Minor Star of the day.  I spoke to Head Coach Derek Milani of Team BC, for his thoughts and he suggested a player that did not actually play in the Final.  Jeremy Bosher of Kamloops was instrumental scoring a couple goals against Ontario in Round Robin play.  His efforts in that game helped BC attain the bye to the Final.  Unfortunately for Jeremy, his play in the National Championship would end shortly after, when he broke his arm in a future game.  Coach Milani wanted to recognize his player for what he did to help his team and we obliged.  We spoke to the team, shortly after they received their medals:

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The last game of the day was the matchup of the undefeated Team Iroquois Bantams against Team Ontario for the Bantam Gold Medal.  Iroquois went through to the Final with their Thursday night victory over British Columbia.  Team Ontario on the other hand played yesterday and defeated BC to advance.  This was a game that will be talked about for a long, long time.

Iroquois scored just 21 seconds into the game and held a 1-0 lead after one period.  In the second they held a 4-1 lead, before Ontario scored three goals in the last 4 minutes of the period to tie the game at 4-4.  Ontario used the momentum going into the third period and built up a 6-4 lead with just over two minutes remaining.  But Iroquois would not stop and with two in under a minute, the game was tied.

That is when the heroics of Drake Caggiula would take place.  With under a minute to play, he scooped up a loose ball and hustled the floor on a breakaway.  He scored with 38 seconds left, which ended up being the game winner.  Ontario would add another on a Penalty Shot (too many men for Iroquois) and win 8-6.

This game was incredible.  The talent on both teams was remarkable, the goaltending was spectacular, and the physical play on both sides made it a true “edge of your seat” type of game.  My last “Star” of the day I selected was Team Ontario goalie, Brett Meraw.  Brett shut the door and made the key saves when needed to help the team capture gold.

Another unsung hero for Team Ontario was face off man Zach Currier. He was assigned the daunting task of facing Iroquois’ dominant player Seth Oakes in the face-off circle all night.  Oakes is pure power on the draw, and was again tonight.  But at some critical times in the game, Currier was able to get the ball for his team.

I had the chance to talk to Meraw, Currier, and Caggiula after the game on the floor, while they and all of their team mates and families celebrated the Gold Medal win.   

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