The Lambton Jr Sting Major Peewee AAA team headed to Hamilton over Thanksgiving Weekend to play in the Tim Hortons International AAA Tournament with some excitement and anticipation hoping to build off of the good showing in the London Early Bird.
The Stings first opponent was a tough one, the Nickel City Sons from Sudbury, the 6th ranked team in Ontario. As the boys took the ice, all eyes were on the goliath like boy who stood an amazing 6’7” on skates, a spectacle that surely played on the minds of all the players.
The game begun and right off the get go the Sting looked flat and unorganized which translated into a quick goal by the Sons. Shortly after that, the “goliath” skated in just past the blue line and took a hard slap shot that found the back of the net and just like that it was 2-0. Before the period ended the score was 3-0 and the Sting looking a bit defeated.
In the second period the boys came out with a bit more fight and determination and were rewarded with a goal from Cutis Marks would scored from the slot from a beautiful centering pass from Lucas Knowles. Our defense played much tougher in this period and limited the scoring chances. However, by the end of the period Nickel City were up 4-1.
The 3rd period saw the Sting hitting a bit more and being more aggressive but with that came some penalties. The result was 2 more goals and a 6-1 finish for Nickel City.
This was not the start the team was looking for in the tournament. All focus now shifted to redeeming themselves against the Ottawa Senators.
In game 2 of the tournament on Saturday afternoon the Sting would be matched up with the Ottawa Senators, the 12th ranked team in the province. After a lackluster start in their initial game the boys would get a much better start in this game with most of the early pressure being in the Ottawa zone. Gage Langford would get the first goal of the game with the assist going to Alec Trusler on a nice effort pinching in from the point, taking the puck in deep and scoring on a wrap around. The first period would end with the Sting up 1 – 0.
In the second period the Sting would continue to carry the play and Lucas Knowles would dig the puck free along the boards and find a wide open Josh Vale streaking to the net to put the Sting up by a score of 2 – 0. The line of Cameron Adam, Cameron Rombouts and Dante Fuoco would then start to take over with a couple of great shifts. Cameron Adam would find the net from in close to put the Sting up 3 – 0 and after Ottawa would score to narrow the margin to 3 – 1, Cameron Adam would break in on a 2 on 1 with Cameron Rombouts making the perfect pass to Rombouts in front of the goal who would make no mistake to finish off the play.
The Sting would get into some penalty trouble in the 3rd period and Ottawa would narrow the Sting lead to 4 – 2 before Josh Vale would cause a turnover at the Ottawa blue line, drive hard to the net and Theo Crombeen would follow up the play knocking in the rebound for a short handed goal to give the Sting a 5 – 2 lead. The Sting would finish this game off with a win by a final score of 5 – 2.
The third game of the tournament saw the Sting facing a familiar foe in the Huron Perth Lakers. The two evenly matched teams started what would prove to be a tight game trying to establish control with neither team gaining a significant advantage. With just under two minutes left in the first, the Sting found themselves in a two man disadvantage. This proved to be the edge the Lakers were looking for and they capitalized to take a 1-0 lead.
Building off of the momentum from the power play goal, the Lakers were able to take an early 2-0 lead in the second on a nice deke to the backhand that eluded Josh Bayne. Later in the period the boys from Lambton were able to pull within one on a power play of their own. A good low and hard shot from Joe Correia at the point was tipped in by Lucas Knowles. A bad line change on the Lakers almost cost them dearly as the Sting broke in on a 2 on 0 but were thwarted by the Huron Perth goalie. The balance of the period was evenly matched with very few quality scoring chances given up by either side.
Down 2-1 to start the third period, the Sting would need to pick up their game in order to win and have a chance at advancing to the semi-finals Monday. Josh Bayne came up big on a partial break-a-way to keep the Sting hopes alive. Sparked by this save, the skaters started to sustain good pressure keyed from persistent forechecking and cycling. Unfortunately the Huron Perth goaler was up to the task and denied any and all opportunities the Sting had. With just over three minutes left an unnecessary interference penalty sealed the Sting’s fate as the Lakers again capitalized on the power play. The final score was 3 – 1.
With the fate of the team already known, the last game of the tournament was really about restoring confidence and getting back to winning ways. It was against the Rochester Monarchs a team that was determined to leave with a win in the tournament.
Early in the first period the Monarchs were flying on the ice showing they wanted that puck badly. This speed paid off as they broke in on our goalie on a clear breakaway scoring to make it 1-0. The Sting did finally find their feet and it looked like something good was brewing but the scoring would have to wait for the next period.
The second period seemed like shooting practice for the Sting. The boys dominated the play keeping the puck mostly in the opposition’s zone. The Sting would tally 5 goals in the period. Nic Direzze had a pair, while Cameron Adam, Dante Fuoco and Theo Crombeen added singles. Assists went to Cameron Adam, Brett Allardyce and Josh Vale each with 2, while Tristan Haagsma, Cameron Rombouts, Fuoco and Crombeen chipped in with 1 a piece.
The third period continued with the Sting dominance but it took more in the form of physical play. Our defense pairings all seemed to step up in the hitting department with guys using their bodies a little more then the fans have witnessed in the past. Also Jakob Knowles came up with a great save on a breakaway to deny any hope of a late comeback.
The only negative part of the game was the unfortunate “hitting from behind” call that one of our players received which resulted in a 3 game suspension. It didn’t appear to be from behind, from this writer’s point of view and is a tough pill to swallow for the whole team.
The final score was 5-1 for the Sting. Their record was 2 wins and 2 losses, perhaps not the result the team was looking for as they entered the tournament, but they should still be proud of their efforts.
Overall the team had a solid effort in 3 of the 4 games. Unfortunately this was not good enough to move on in a competitive AAA tournament. Intuitively we all know this but living and learning will go a long way for our team as we prepare for our next two tournaments in November (Shanahan Warrior and the Nations Cup).