The Lambton Jr. Sting Minor Atom AAA team travelled to Lansing, Michigan this past weekend to participate in the Nations Cup tournament that places Canadian teams versus their American counterparts. In the first game of the tournament, Lambton took on the Victory Honda “Pond” team from Plymouth, MI. The Jr. Sting came out flying and center Ryder Nienhuis scored just 16 seconds into the game from winger Andrew Lemieux and defenseman Matthew Moore. Lambton would find the back of the net, once again, before the end of the first period when winger Nicholas Medeiros scored from center Derek Esselment. The Jr. Sting seemed to be in the driver’s seat after one period of play, leading 2-0 and outshooting their opponents 6 to 2. However, Victory Honda would score 2 poweplay goals and a shorthanded goal before the final buzzer would sound and the Minor Atoms would lose this closely battled game 3-2.
Game 2 of the tournament saw the Jr. Sting facing off versus the Detroit Compuware 2003 team, in a rematch of a game from their Cleveland Barons Showcase Tournament in early December. Compuware would go ahead 3-0 before Owen Peters buried a rebound. Assists on the goal were given to Jake MacLean and Ryder Nienhuis. Detroit would extend their lead to 6-1 before Austin Harper scored from Andrew Lemieux and Peters to make it a 6-2 final.
On Saturday, the team took on the 17th ranked team in the U.S.A, the HoneyBaked 2003 team in a very evenly match game. Lambton would strike first, in the second period, when Austin Harper found the back of the net after a goal mouth scramble. Harpers’ linemates, Jake MacLean and Andrew Lemieux, were awarded assists on the play. Unfortunately, the lead was short lived and HoneyBaked scored just 1:29 later to tie the game up 1-1. Jake MacLean would put Lambton up for good with just 1:27 left in the game when he buried a rebound from Andrew Lemieux past the HoneyBaked goaltender. Goaltender, Blake Foster, would hold off a barrage of shots in the final minute to solidify Lambton’s win 3-2.
In their final game in round-robin play, the Minor Atoms took on the Jr. Lumberjacks from Cleveland, OH. The Jr. Sting would open the scoring just 3:09 into the game when Derek Esselment scored from winger Lucas deLorenzo but Cleveland would answer back just 1:05 later and the teams were knotted at one heading in to the second period. The Jr. Jacks would go head by one early in the second before Lucas deLorenzo scored 2 goals in 3:34 to tie the game up at 3-3. Assists on deLorenzo’s goals were awarded to defensemen Madeleine Godfrey and Wesley Brooks and center Esselment. The Jr. Sting found themselves down 4-3 heading in to the third period of play. Andrew Lemieux scored an unassisted goal, just 14 seconds into the third when he poked the puck into the net from under the Jr. Jacks goaltender. However, Cleveland would score 3 unanswered goals just 55 seconds apart to go ahead 7-4. But the ever resilient Minor Atoms worked hard and threw a lot of shots at the Cleveland goaltender but could only muster one more goal when Owen Peters scored his second of the tournament from Jake MacLean and Carson Peers. The Jr. Jacks ended up winning 8-5.
After a record of 1-3 after 4 round-robin games, the Lambton Minor Atoms found themselves ranked 6th in their Canadian pool behind Quinte Red Devils, Kitchener Jr. Rangers, Brantford 99ers, Windsor Jr. Spitfires and Sun County Panthers and facing off versus the 6th seeded team in the U.S.A. pool, the Cleveland Jr. Barons in their final game of the tournament. As the winning nation in round-robin play, all Canadian team began their final games with a powerplay. Lambton took advantage of this opportunity when centre Derek Esselment scored just 1:50 into the game from linemates Lucas deLorenzo and Nicholas Medeiros. This line was on fire throughout this game make some sweet moves and passes and turning the Cleveland defensemen inside out on numerous plays. Lambton would blow the game open in the second period scoring 5 goals. Goal scorers included Jake MacLean, Nicholas Medeiros (2) and Austin Harper and Derek Esselment. Assists on the goals were given to Austin Harper, Owen Chambers, Derek Esselment, Andrew Lemieux and Lucas deLorenzo. The coaches would change things up in the third giving defensemen, Matthew Moore, Owen Chambers, Eric McDonald and Madeleine Godfrey a chance at playing forward and forwards Austin Harper, Jake MacLean and Andrew Lemieux a chance at displaying their defensive skills on the point. Lambton would prevail 6-1 in one of their best offensive outputs of the season.