Written by Dave Duncan, Midget AE Coach
I am a little delayed in posting an article, but the emotion of the finals, and a 52 game season proved exhausting. Six and a half months ago, 17 players and 4 coaches sat down for their first meeting as a team. We discussed expectations and goals, and talked about their potential. Today I can say they met those expectations, and on the way made the Town of Goderich proud.
The Midget AE Sailors finished the WOAA regular season 12-1-1, good for first place in their pool. They participated in the Silver Stick Regional Tournament in Exeter, where they eliminated defending champion Strathroy in the semi-finals, before losing to Mt Brydges in the Finals. Their impressive showing earned them an invitation to the International Silver Stick Championships in Niagara Falls.
After a tough 5 game series with South Bruce, they defeated an aggressive Shelburne team in 4 games. In the semi-finals they traveled to Norwood, to face the Hornets, who had yet to lose a playoff game. The Sailors swept Norwood in front of a loud home crowd, that would foreshadow what was to come. This earned the team a spot in the OMHA finals, a chance to break GMHI's 34 year drought. For 9 of the Sailors, it was their second OMHA Finals in 3 years.
Game 1 of the Finals took place in Dunnville, on March 18th. The Sailors came out nervous, but Kyle held them in the game with a couple key saves. Seven minutes into the first, Kody held the puck in the Dunnville zone, and fired a low shot inside the post, assisted by Darren and Alex. Goderich was up 1-0 after the first. The second period was all Goderich, as the Sailors scored three unanswered goals. Noah N. fed a nice pass out to Andy, who one-timed a shot by the Mudcat keeper. Three minutes later Noah stretched the lead to 3-0 when he skated in on the off-wing and fired a shot by the Dunnville goalie. Drew blocked a shot, and raced the length of the ice before scoring five-hole, to leave to Sailors up 5-0 at the break. The Sailors went into a defensive shell in the third, but Braeden picked up a loose puck and capped the scoring, assisted by Drew. Game 1 was a convincing 5-0 Sailor win.
Game 2 was the following day in Goderich. The Sailors jumped out to a quick lead, when Braeden came in the Dunnville end and fired a shot high blocker side, assisted by Alex and Mitch R.. Midway through the second, Darren stretched the lead to 2-0, when he roofed a shot, assisted by Daniel. The Sailors held that 2-0 lead at the break. A combination of a short bench and a long night the evening before tapped the Sailors, and Dunnville scored 3 unanswered goals in the third to win game 2 by a score of 3-2.
Game 3 was in Dunnville, and for the third consecutive game, the Sailors opened the scoring. Noah N. deflected Cole's point shot to put the Sailors up 1-0. The Sailors ran into penalty trouble in the second period, handing Dunnville four powerplays. Dunnville scored three second period goals and an empty-netter in the third, and the Sailors squandered Greg's goaltending.
The Sailors returned home for Game 4, with their backs to the wall, but quickly saw they had lots of support. A very full, very loud MRC welcomed them, and spurred them on. For the first time in the series, Dunnville scored first, but there was no stopping the Sailors. A minute after Dunnville's goal, Colton gathered in a loose puck, and tied the game, assisted by Mitch C.. Early in the second, Noah N. made another nice pass, and Noah C. an equally nice finish, going bar-down to put the Sailors up 2-0. Shortly after, Braeden stole the puck along the boards and fired a slapshot by the Mudcat goalie to make it 3-0. The noise in the MRC continued to build, and Brian sealed the deal, shooting the puck the length of the ice to cap the win at 4-1 Goderich, forcing a deciding game 5, and allowing the players to salute the incredible crowd after a win.
March 26th was the deciding game. The Sailors skated onto the ice in front of a split crowd, as so many Goderich fans traveled to Dunnville they almost outnumbered Mudcat fans. Dunnville was awarded a powerplay, on a phantom interference call, and quickly took advantage. The Mudcats had a 2-0 lead after the first. The game became a seesaw battle from there, with both teams having chances, but unable to score. With 1:45 remaining, and the Sailor net empty, Drew scored assisted by Cole and Braeden, and the Sailors were back in it. The battled to the very end, but just couldn't tie it up. Dunnville took the game 2-1 and won the title. The Sailors were disappointed at not being able to break the drought, and emotions ran high in the room, but the soon realized what they had accomplished.
The players, coaches, and parents want to thank the people of Goderich, their friends and family for their support, for filling the stands and cheering the team on. Without the support of local businesses, organizations, and people, this journey wouldn't have been as successful. A huge thank-you to those that donated time and money to help us; the Old Deckhands Hockey Team, Unifor 16-0, Mainline Irrigation, R&R Construction, Goderich Landscaping, Marc Apparel, Zehrs, Culberts, GMHI, Boston Pizza, Frankies, Microage Basics, the Gaynors, Renate Roth..........and anyone else who was there. Your generosity was appreciated and will not be forgotten. We will be back next year!
GODERICH SAILORS MIDGET AE 2015-16 OMHA FINALISTS