The Lambton Jr. Sting Minor Atom AAA team travelled to Wooster, Ohio and turned a lot of heads this past weekend at the Cleveland Barons 2003 AAA Showcase. The team met up with some pretty stiff competition and highly ranked teams in the continental US and came away with a 2-1-1 record, including a 1-1 tie versus the #3 team in the USA, the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite.
The Jr. Sting met the host, Cleveland Barons, in their first game of the tournament and looked to take an early lead from the drop of the puck. Lambton would get their first opportunity just 49 seconds into the game when the Barons got called for a hooking penalty. The Jr. Sting would score their first power play goal of the tournament just 18 seconds later when Andrew Lemieux scored his first of the tournament from Ryder Nienhuis. This would set the tone of things to come as the team had their best offensive output of the season scoring a total of 9 goals in the game. Following Lemieux’s goal at 13:53 of the first period, Lambton would score 5 more goals in less than 6 minutes. By the end of the first period, Lambton was up 6-0 and out shooting the Barons 15-2. The team was in the driver’s seat and goaltender Kaden Gray was just 27 seconds away from his first shutout of the season but stayed strong when called upon. Point getters for the Jr. Sting included : Nicholas Medeiros (3G), Eric McDonald (3A), Lemieux (2G, 1A), Lucas deLorenzo (1G, 2A), Austin Harper (1G, 1A), Derek Esselment (1G, 1A), Owen Peters (1G), Owen Chambers (1A) and Nienhuis (1A).
Lambton’s second game saw them facing off against the 23rd best team in the USA, Detroit Compuware. Once again, the Jr. Sting took an early lead when Ryder Nienhuis passed the puck out front of the Detroit net and Jake MacLean buried it. Unfortunately, Compuware answered back just 1:22 later when goaltender Blake Foster was pushed into the net after the whistle and the referee counted the goal to the Lambton faithfull’s dismay. Detroit would go up 3-1 before Andrew Lemieux answered with his third of the tournament unassisted. Goaltender, Blake Foster, stood tall between the pipes turning away 27 of the 30 shots he saw.
Saturday night saw the Jr. Sting taking on the #3 ranked team in the USA at this age level, the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite. In a penalty filled game, both teams battled hard until the final whistle sounded. The Penguins drew first blood, scoring on their 10th shot of the game, late in the first period but goaltender Kaden Gray would shut the door from that point on turning aside 20 consecutive shots. Jake MacLean would score his second of the tournament midway through the 3rd period on a 5 on 3 power play when he tipped a point shot from defenseman Wesley Brooks to tie the game up at ones. Lambton was able to contain Pittsburgh’s speed and finesse and came away with a moral victory in a 1-1 tie. Once again, goaltender Kaden Gray was phenomenal making 29 spectacular saves in the tie.
The final game of the tournament saw the Jr. Sting up against the #32 ranked Rochester Americans from New York State. As was the case in the Cleveland game, earlier in the tournament, the Jr. Sting took advantage on a power play in the first minute of play. Newly developing defenseman, Eric McDonald scored his second goal of the season from the point from Austin Harper. The Americans found themselves, once again, down a man midway through the first period and Nicholas Medeiros would make them pay, scoring his 4th goal of the tournament from centre Derek Esselment and defenseman Owen Chambers. Rochester would tie things up in the second period but Lambton would not let the game get away from them. Andrew Lemieux would score his 4th of the tournament on his signature wraparound move and Austin Harper would score his 2nd of the tournament with just 2:16 left in the game to seal the win. Once again, the goaltending acrobatics of Blake Foster was one of the main reasons the Jr. Sting held on to win the game.
The parents and coaching staff were very excited to see this young team finally come together, work as a team and use the skills taught in practices to get back in the win column. The team would also like to thank all their sponsors for their continued support throughout the season.
The Minor Atoms gets back to league play this weekend hosting division rivals Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs on Saturday and the Windsor Jr. Spitfires on Sunday at the RBC Centre.
Go Sting Go!