Midget Majors triumph at OHF’s in Timmins


The Amherstburg Stars midget majors celebrate their OHF title April 13 in Timmins. PHOTO BY JOHN HOLZEL

The Amherstburg Stars midget majors celebrate their OHF title April 13 in Timmins. PHOTO BY JOHN HOLZEL

Special to the RTT


Around the town of Amherstburg last Monday, there were 16 young men who happen to play hockey for the midget major Stars program that all made salon appointments as golden mohawks and blonde “mo-fros” were getting clipped to the floor.

That was because their hockey season officially came to an end but not before they claimed their fifth piece of hardware and were crowned the true champions of all of Ontario.

When the final whistle blew in Timmins, the Stars realized they had yet another dream come true and all their hard work had paid its dividends just as head coach Glen Holden promised in September.

Assistant captain Zak Parlette, who ultimately scored the championship-winning goal, found himself repeating to his teammates, “I can’t believe we did it. It’s all over. We won everything we faced and it’s impossible to think we won our last game in this Amherstburg jersey. I love all these guys. They are my family forever.”

The Stars destroyed their opponents by outscoring them in the six games they played by the tune of 35-9.

In Game 1 last Friday versus the host squad, the Shumacher Cubs, and with netminder Daniel Tonietto in the cage, the Stars’ nerves were on display as the Cubs took advantage early and cashed in on their first couple of chances down in the Stars’ zone and suddenly found themselves up 2-1 midway through the opening period.

Before the first period would expire, a point shot from Dean Patterson would be tipped in by Colin Leardi and the Stars would equal the contest after one. Goalie Tonietto was allowed to relax somewhat as the true talent of the Stars returned for the middle session as the Stars answered with seven more goals en route to a 9-2 blowout.

A powerplay tally off the blade of Robbie Lavoie, from Parlette and Patterson, would jumpstart the celebrations that would continue throughout the remainder of the game.

Next, a minute later, a perfect give and go by Mitch Holden and Noah Renaud would push the lead to a pair. Then, Garett Meloche would dump the puck to linemate Anthony Cristofaro and after taking two defenders around back of the Cubs’ net, he simply slid the puck over to Michael Ciccone for a quick tap-in.

The Stars would strike again as Cory Burns would give Renaud a partial breakaway for another goal and a Michael Lenson outlet pass to Jacob Damico saw Damico spotted a streaking Leardi and Leardi’s backhander found the top shelf.

Burns would pick up a pair of helpers in the third period as he set up Holden and then also feed Parlette for a shot from the blue line that would go unnoticed by the Cubs’ netminder for a convincing 9-2 final.

In the Friday nightcap against the London Bandits from the Alliance League and with Thomas Demarco between the pipes, it was once again the visitors opening the scoring early in the second period.

A point shot from Parlette would even the game but the Bandits would grab the advantage before time expired in the middle period for a 2-1 lead. The Stars battled hard in the third as Damico, the hulking power forward, won the puck in a battle along the boards and a quick flip to Zak Fritsch ended up with Fritsch’s short side shot finding the back of the cage and this game was now back to square one.

With just over two minutes remaining, a powerplay goal was tipped in by Lavoie off the shot from Marshall Laing and the Stars were perfect through two games.

The GTA’s Applewood Coyotes were up next and, as usual, the Stars spotted them the first goal.

A late-period marker by Holden would knot this one up and then linemates Damico and Fritsch would combine not once but twice, to push the lead to 3-1. Fritsch would get his second of the game as he tipped home a Ryan Wismer blast from the point and Daniel Tonietto had a 4-1 lead after two periods.

Damico would cash in his second late in the third period, sandwiched between a pair of Applewood goals, and the Stars would settle for a 5-3 win.

In Game 4 on Saturday, with the northern Ontario champs challenging the Stars, it was the Stars who would put this one to bed early by notching four first period goals and riding Demarco to a 6-0 shutout victory.

The Stars got goals from Holden (2), Cristofaro, Lavoie, Leardi and a late third period blue line shot from Wismer. Picking up a pair of assists in this game were Lenson, Sean Santarossa, Ryan Holzel and single helpers were given to Patterson, Leardi, Laing, Renaud and Ciccone and it was off to the semi-finals on Sunday.

The Stars were faced with playing the Iroquois Falls Stingers again in the Sunday morning game and all on board were encouraged to bring their best game to the arena that day and the Stars easily handled the Stingers and sent them home as the Stars won easily 9-1.

With starter Tonietto unable to play because of the flu, Demarco stopped eight of nine shots he faced as pretty well everyone dressed got on the scoresheet.

In the final game of the season and career of ten of the Stars’ players, the London Bandits had dreams of title hopes for themselves but the Stars wanted no part of seeing the Bandits’ vision come true.

With the fans still settling into the McIntire Arena, it was Parlette slipping the puck to cousin Holzel and his partial breakaway snipe would find a spot under the crossbar to get the whole Stars bench cheering only 35 seconds in.

Late in the opening period, it was Burns feeding the puck back to the blue line and a pass from Patterson to Parlette led to the Stars enjoying a two-goal cushion after one period.

The Bandits, to their credit, came right back and answered on their first shift in the second but that was as close as they would get as Demarco was called upon to make a trio of brilliant saves to preserve the win.

In the final frame, Lavoie would set up Patterson for the final goal of the season as the final seconds counted down for a thrilling 3-1 total team OHF championship win.

After all the celebrating and all the photos had been taken with the trophy, assistant coach Les Garrod addressed his squad by saying “thank you to everyone in this room to be part of this incredible journey that we undertook this season. Back in September, we all talked about our goals for this year and our goal was to be sitting in this dressing room celebrating with your teammates enjoying the benefits of all the work you put into the season has culminated the champions that you are today. I thank you for bringing back the love I have for this game of hockey and you all handled yourself first class all the way through this season. You should all be very proud of yourselves and all that you have accomplished this year. The whole town of Amherstburg should be proud of you guys and no one will ever take that away from you. You leave this room today as true first class champions. Congratulations guys, you deserve it.”

The Stars’ final record this year stands at 56-10-5.

On behalf of myself John Holzel, it was a blast covering these players for the last 11 years and thank you Ron for allowing me to make stars out of all these young Stars. The camera and pen have now left the building. See y’all at the banner raising ceremony. Go Stars Go!

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