Midget Minor Stars defend Woodstock Silver Stick title

 

Minor MIdget Silverstick 008Special to the RTT

PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE RTT

Silver has never tasted as good as it does for the 1998 Amherstburg Stars travel team.

This past weekend, the Midget Minor Stars defended their Woodstock Regional Silver Stick title in convincing fashion. This team won the same bi-annual regional in 2011, going on that season to win the International Finals in their Bantam Minor year.

Travelling to Woodstock this year, a repeat was on their mind. Placed in a noticeably more challenging division for the preliminary round, the Stars were matched up against some of the best midget minor teams in the province. The tournament started with a rematch of last year’s OMHA Quarter Final Series versus the Niagara Falls Canucks. After Niagara Falls jumped out to an early first period lead, the Stars weathered the storm and came out in the second with two power-play goals from Cam Aucoin and Jack Hubbell. The lead would be short lived as Niagara Falls would score late in the second, tying the game at 2-2. The third period was all Niagara Falls, scoring two goals and adding an empty netter to win the bout 5-2.

The Stars regrouped on Saturday knowing another loss would eliminate them from the tournament. Playing a tough North London team, the Stars came out flying getting a goal from Cam Aucoin in the first two minutes of the game. Kyle Meloche added two goals, helping push the Stars to a 3-0 lead after the first. It was all Stars from there, with Josh Rice recording a natural hat trick to push the lead to 6-0. A late North London goal would put the final score to 6-1.

The Stars now matched up against a Meadowvale team they tied 1-1 in their Earlybird tournament in September; again it was win or go home. Through two periods of play a goal had yet to be recorded. Midway through the third period a Joey Bouzide shot from the point would break the tie and give the Stars a 1-0 lead. The lead was short-lived though, as Meadowvale answered back a short 3 minutes later. The Stars would get a late power play in the game and a Jake Topliffe tip on a point shot from Jack Hubbell was all the Stars needed to move into Championship Sunday.

Finishing second in their pool the Stars were matched up against the Oakville Rangers (blue).  The Stars knew that a win in the semis would give them a tournament rematch with Niagara Falls, but first they had to take care of business versus the Rangers. The Stars outplayed the Rangers in all aspects of the game, winning 3-0. Stars goal scorers were Kyle Meloche, Nick Bertram and Justin Veldhuis. Jack Langlois was very strong in net posting the shutout.

By getting the rematch they wanted against the Canucks, the Stars extended their tournament final streak to seven straight tournament finals dating back two years.

With only one and half hours between the semifinals and finals the Stars were forced to be ready to go right away.  From the opening drop of the puck, the Stars knew they would have to dig deep to accomplish this win.  Late in the first period, a Colton McGregor point shot on the power play would be the only scoring of the game. DJ Hall was solid in net, turning away all of the Niagara Falls offense and posting the shutout in the Stars 1-0 Championship win.

Coach Paul Bortignon notes the biggest positive of the weekend was seeing the team play and respond in multiple elimination games.

“The loss to Niagara Falls really humbled us and from that point on the mindset was win or go home,” said Bortignon. “Giving up five goals in the opening game was a reality check that championships are won in the defensive zone,” added Bortignon.  The Stars gave up only four goals in their final four tournament games, including two shutouts on championship Sunday.

Assistant Captain Kyle Meloche said puck movement and determination are two major positives from the weekend.

“We excelled moving the puck; and to rebound from a tough Friday game and get better and better all weekend was a real positive,” said Meloche.  “We were good as a team and didn’t play as individuals,” added Meloche.

The first place Stars jump back into Bluewater League action this weekend with a home game versus rival LaSalle Sabres Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. at the UCCUC.

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