Bulldogs capture WECSSAA hockey title with win over Belle River

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Bulldogs boys hockey team are WECSSAA A/AA champions after overcoming adversity against the Belle River Nobles.

The Bulldogs overcame adversity in the series and in the decisive third game but won both, including taking Game 3 by a 2-0 final score.

The General Amherst Bulldogs celebrate their WECSSAA A/AA hockey title Feb. 25 at the Libro Centre. Amherst won 2-0 in the third and decisive game.

The General Amherst Bulldogs celebrate their WECSSAA A/AA hockey title Feb. 25 at the Libro Centre. Amherst won 2-0 in the third and decisive game.

The Bulldogs got down in a hole early in the series as they dropped Game 1 on home ice Tuesday afternoon, a 4-3 double overtime defeat.

Bailey Bell scored the winner for the Nobles with General Amherst getting two goals from Zach Yott and another by Brock Beaudoin. It was originally thought by the coaches last week they would be without Beaudoin due to an injury but he was able to return.

The Bulldogs rebounded in Game 2 at the Atlas Tube Centre in Lakeshore Wednesday afternoon with a 2-1 victory. Garret Blunt and Yott scored in that game for General Amherst.

The third game of the best-of-three finals was at the Libro Centre Thursday afternoon. The two teams were scoreless through one period but the Bulldogs got a goal in each of the last two periods to get the win Jarrod Benninger rifled home a shot midway through the second period with Beaudoin adding an insurance goal in the third.

Bulldogs’ forward Justin Veldhuis had to be carried off the ice on a stretcher early in the second period after being checked hard into the boards. He suffered a broken clavicle on the play.

Josh Paquette picked up the shutout in goal for the Bulldogs in Game 3.

The win was the first WECSSAA title for the Bulldogs since the 2009-10 season.

“Losing the first game was a tough pill to swallow,” said Amherst head coach Pat Garrett. “I thought we played well enough in the first game to win.”

The second game was a great one, Garrett added.

“Both teams played 100 per cent. It could have went either way,” he said. “It was one of those games where it was sad to see either team lose.”

General Amherst's Owen Coughlin (15, left) fights off a Belle River Nobles' defender as he enters the Belle River zone Feb. 25 at the Libro Centre.

General Amherst’s Owen Coughlin (15, left) fights off a Belle River Nobles’ defender as he enters the Belle River zone Feb. 25 at the Libro Centre.

Losing Veldhuis in Game 3 was tough but the Bulldogs were able to step up and pull out the win.

“I’m so happy for this group of kids,” Garrett said.

Garrett said this might be the best team he has had since the 2008-09 season, a year where they also won WECSSAA. The Bulldogs made it to OFSAA that year.

“They are a really good group,” said Garrett.

Garrett also paid tribute to their opponents, stating that Belle River has a great hockey program they respect.

Blunt, the Amherst captain, said it was a team effort.

“It feels great,” he said of the WECSSAA championship. “It was an effort by all 18 guys.”

Winning the WECSSAA title was one of their goals and Blunt said it feels awesome to accomplish it. They were able to overcome Veldhuis’ loss though he was with them in spirit all game.

“We knew we had to win it for him,” said Blunt. “We did it for him.”

Blunt said Veldhuis told him before he left via ambulance to win the title.

The loss in Game 1 was their first since the opening game of the regular season, he added.

“Every great team loses games,” said Blunt, adding they tried to overcome every obstacle that was placed in front of them.

General Amherst hosts the SWOSSAA A/AA final Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. against Lambton-Kent Cardinals. Blunt said the Bulldogs will celebrate their WECSSAA title but quickly refocus on SWOSSAA.

Comments are closed.