The Ancaster Minor Atom A team took home Gold in thrilling fashion the weekend of December 28-29, 2019 at the Wayne Gretzky International Tournament in Brantford.
The team came out of the round robin 2-2 and saw a semi-final match up against the London Jr. Mustangs. The Mustangs came out of the gate playing fast and physical in a match up that tested the Avalanche in all areas. After some great saves by net minder Campbell Baker, and 2 goals by Defenseman Tristan Walker, the end of regulation saw a 2-2 tie going into a sudden death overtime. The overtime saw great puck movement and hard fought battles when Defenseman Owen Duckett charged into the London end with the puck, putting a hard shot on net which initially was saved, when Forward Kyler Van den Heuvel muscled the puck from an opposing player in front of the net to bury it into the back of the mesh for the winning goal.
The celebration was sweet but the players knew there was a bigger game on the way against the Brantford 99ers AA squad who was undefeated in the round robin and had outscored opponents 20-5 thus far. The underdog Avalanche marched into the Gretzky centre chomping at the bit for a chance to take down the tournaments home team and championship favourite.
The David vs Goliath matchup did not disappoint. The Avalanche came out fast and furious and took charge of the game with a decisive goal by Finley Holt to start the scoring. Brantford struck back with a goal only minutes later to tie things up at 1-1. This deadlock took the game all the way to the third period when Porter Mastroianni broke the tie, streaking down the left side and finding the back of the net to go up 2-1. A power play goal for the 99ers mid way through the 3 rdtied things up again until Francesco Montecchia opened it up once again with less than 6 minutes to go in the 3 rd. Brantford on the ropes with only 2 minutes remaining pulled their goalie in hopes to get back into things. After a controversial icing call, the Avs found themselves back in their end for the draw with about 1 minute remaining when the 99ers capitalized and tied it up, sending the game into a 3 on 3 overtime.
The Avs, who thrive on the pressure of OT, battled hard and as the time ticked on, kept battling when a fast rush and battle behind the net saw Avs Finley Holt come out of the scrum with the puck and wrap it around to the net, ending the game and seeing the Avalanche earning their victory in electrifying fashion.
The Minor Atom Avalanche saw amazing play from the entire line up. Goalies Francesco DePaola and Campbell Baker played lights out hockey and made saves when the team needed them the most. Defensemen Ryan Lehman, Luke Van den Heuvel, Owen Duckett and Tristan Walker anchored the steel curtain and played with their usual grit and tenacity, adding to the scoresheet as well. Forwards Brayden Crevier, Cole Murphy, Evan Collins, Finley Holt, Francesco Montecchia, Kyler Van den Heuvel, Porter Mastroianni, Reece Traver, and Sam Wilkie all brought a ferocious energy, unrelenting pressure and gritty backcheck the whole week and gutted out wins against some top tier opponents. The team this week showed that no matter the opponent, hard work, perseverance and focus will always give them a chance to win.
Congratulations to the 2018 Wayne Gretzky International Hockey Tournament Minor Atom Champions – Ancaster Avalanche.