Midget Majors prepare for playdowns

 

By Joel Charron

The Amherstburg Midget Majors Stars quest for a third straight OMHA title begins this Friday.

The Stars finished the season 15-5-4, good enough  to grab the second seed and a first round match up with St. Thomas.

The playdown format has changed from last year. Instead of the opening rounds being a five point series, OMHA has opted to go the route of a double loss elimination tourney style.

This means if the Stars lose two games, their season is done, however they can lose one game and still find themselves advancing past the Bluewater League.

Although the Stars are defending back-to-back champs, head coach Matt Fox said his squad feels like they have been disrespected all season.

“Our team has been disrespected, maybe looked over in the latter half of the season,” said Fox.

Come Friday against St. Thomas, Fox said the Stars are looking to make an “obvious point” that the Stars are a contender for a three peat.

Fox believes his boys can go all the way, however he noted that they aren’t looking that far ahead as St. Thomas is the first team that is standing in their way.

“Our focus is strictly on the first game,” said Fox.

Stars assistant captain Tyler Morand said the Stars have a long road ahead of them and the only way to advance is to play hard every shift.

“We have to take it period by period, shift by shift,” said Morand. “Everyone has to bust their butts from the time they step off the bench to the time they step off the ice. There are no taking shifts off. If we want to win everyone has to put in that kind of effort.”

If there is an area of concern, it’s the Stars penalty killing, which has been dismal over the past two months, however now that every game matters Stars captain Dan Bondy noted that everyone understands what’s at stake and is ready to put in the time to right the ship.

“We have two practices this week and everyone is working hard to make sure all aspects of our game are tight,” said Bondy.

“Our penalty killing hasn’t been perfect but I think we can get back to a place where we can frustrate teams and use that to our advantage,” said Fox.

The Stars are loaded with talented players who know what its like to lift the J.H. “Jack” Stafford Trophy, Bondy said those veteran players are going to have to lead the way for those who haven’t been there before.

“The vets have to be leaders,” said Bondy. “We have to relax and not get caught up in the moment. Just play your game, your style and everything else will be fine.”

Fox agreed with Bondy.

“We have a couple of guys who have won back-to-back championships and we have a lot of guys that won their first one last year, so we’re looking for a lot of leadership and a lot of intensity,” said Fox.

The quest for the three peat begins Friday at 7 p.m. at the Essex Sports Complex on the UCCU rink against a tough St. Thomas squad.

“We’re going to stick to the team concept, stay disciplined and try and get some good bounces,” said Fox.

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