Local hockey player part of OHF championship team

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local hockey player can now add an OHF championship to his resume.

Johnny Lopez and his Sun County Panthers ’05 captured the OHF pee wee championship earlier this month in Essex. They are the first pee wee team in Sun County history to capture an OHF title.

“It feels really good,” he said. “It was good competition. We played really well.”

The team went 6-2 over its eight games, with the championship coming with a 2-0 win over Ottawa Myers Automotive in the final. Lopez scored the empty net goal in that game to clinch it for Sun County.

“It was really exciting,” he said.

Lopez scored five goals and added six assists in the OHF tournament and also had eight penalty minutes. He was third overall in points for his team and was tied for ninth overall in the tournament. His six assists were second overall in the tournament.

Sun County defeated the Oakville Rangers in the semi-finals 8-6 with Lopez scoring twice in that victory, including the game winning goal that came while the Panthers were shorthanded. Oakville was ranked fourth overall in the tournament and Sun County pulled the upset.

“It wasn’t really expected we would win,” said Lopez.

Johnny Lopez, 12, shows his medal that his Sun County Panthers pee wee team at the recent OHF championship. He is the only Amherstburg hockey player on the team.

Working hard was the key to victory, he added.

The Panthers were also champions of the Alliance league and having an Alliance team win OHF’s is somewhat of a rarity.

“It’s pretty big for them that they actually won,” said Lopez’s father John.

The Kitchener Rangers also qualified for the OHF tournament out of the Alliance as they were finalists in the Alliance playoffs. Other teams in the tournament were the Nickel City Sons, the Thunder Bay Kings and the Mississauga Reps, the latter having once been the top-ranked team in Ontario.

The 12-year-old Lopez, a scoring winger on the Panthers, said it was a “definitely unique experience” to have WE-TV televise the tournament and it was also a good experience to win the championship on home ice.

“It was cool,” he said. “Everyone started cheering at the end. If we weren’t hosting, we wouldn’t have heard the roar of the crowd.”

The Panthers were coached by Danny Anger with Steve Spriggs and Myles Doan being the assistant coaches.

“Obviously, they did a fantastic job coaching the kids through the playoffs and the OHFs,” he said.

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