Midget Major Stars celebrate 4-3 OT thriller in Ajax for OMHA crown

 

The Amherstburg Stars midget major team celebrate their OMHA title last Sunday afternoon in Ajax.

The Amherstburg Stars midget major team celebrate their OMHA title last Sunday afternoon in Ajax.

 

Midget major captain Noah Renaud holds the OMHA championship trophy after the Amherstburg Stars won it in Ajax. PHOTOS BY JOHN HOLZEL

Midget major captain Noah Renaud holds the OMHA championship trophy after the Amherstburg Stars won it in Ajax. PHOTOS BY JOHN HOLZEL

Special to the RTT

 

The Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association celebrated its most successful year ever this season as three teams (novice, bantam major and midget major) all won their OMHA championships in a span of three hours last Sunday.

Some might say it was the worst winter ever, but for 54 aspiring hockey stars from Amherstburg, it was truly the greatest winter of their lives.

The midget major Stars headed up to Ajax with a 3-1 points lead in the first to six point series with their dreams needing only a win and a tie to come true.

With Daniel Tonietto getting the nod in Game 3, he played the position of goaltender to perfection as he held the Knights off the scoresheet to the tune of a 3-0 shutout victory.

After a scoreless opening period, the Stars would get the eventual game winner only two minutes into the second period as Ryan Holzel would feed Colin Leardi along the boards and Leardi would slip the puck back to point man Marshal Laing. Laing’s screen shot was declared in and the Stars were up one after a pair of periods.

The same three skaters combined on the second goal as, this time, Holzel slid the puck to Laing and his point shot was scooped up by Leardi and the Amherstburg fans had another chance to make noise.

Only 40 seconds later, the Stars added another tally as Leardi picked up his third point of the contest as he spotted Robbie Lavoie at the side of the cage and his accurate shot had enough space to find the top shelf and Tonietto would stop all 26 shots he faced for the shutout and the Stars enjoyed a 5-1 points lead.

The Stars woke up last Sunday and knew if they put their best effort out on display for just one more game, they could become champions. However, the Knights were not going to go away easily.

Goalie Thomas Demarco was the goalie that would get the start in Game 4 and Ajax would cash in early, as a deflected shot would put the hometown Knights on the board first.

It took only four minutes for the Stars to respond as Laing’s blast from the blue line would be blocked but Leardi got the rebound and spotted an open Ryan Wismer back at the blue line and his shot would get the Stars back to even.

In the second period, the Stars took the lead 2-1 as Holzel would flip the puck to Lavoie and his shot led to a juicy tap in by Leardi and the Stars now held the advantage.

With five minutes to go, the Knights would once again get even but before the end of the period, the Stars would strike again as Lavoie broke in on the Knights’ cage and a backhand snap would put the Stars up 3-2.

The Knights refused to go away and halfway through the third period, they scored and sent the game to overtime.

While the Stars were willing to settle for a tie, it was the Knights that needed a winning goal to extend their season.

The clock read 7:31 when hustling forward Michael Ciccone slipped the puck in deep and, at the side of the Knights’ net, slipped the puck over to linemate Anthony Cristofaro. Cristofaro made a perfect tape-to-tape pass to the blade of pinching Dean Patterson and Patterson’s shot would find a spot between pad and post to send his teammates pouring over the boards into an instant celebration of pure joy.

After the thrilling win, Patterson announced: “To win our last game in Amherstburg hockey is something we’ll remember forever. We earned every win in the finals. They never beat us. To finish #1 is so awesome.”

The players and family of the midget major team send a huge thank you to coaches Les Garrod, Mario DiPaolo, Kyle Burns, trainer Rick Wismer and manager Marylynn  Holzel and especially head coach Glen Holden for his vision to dream it, believe it and achieve it.

The Stars are now headed off to the OHF’s in Timmins April 11-13 where their dream season continues. Champions at last.

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