Popel’s OT goal secures Silverstick title

 

By Joel Charron

The Amherstburg Midget Major Stars began 2013 by bringing home a championship.

The Stars won the Midget “A” Silverstick Petrolia regional tournament on the strength of Alex Popel’s overtime goal just five minutes in extra time.

The 5-4 overtime win over the London Bandits secured Amherstburg’s second Regional Silverstick title in as many years (Bantam Majors won the tournament for their level last year) and the first Silverstick title for the Midget “A” level.

“I’m proud that I was able to step up for the team,” said Popel. “It’s an unreal feeling. I felt like that was the best game I’ve played all season.”

The Stars began the road to the final on Dec. 27 with a 6-2 over the Mooretown Storm. Colin Leardi scored a hat trick and Josh Laframboise, Robert Lavoie and Matt Rosati all found the back of the net as the Stars advanced to the next round.

Next, the Stars took on the London Bandits it what would be the first of three intense, gritty games.

After London built a 2-0 after the first period, Zak Parlette scored two goals just two minutes apart to tie the game. London regained the lead just moment later before Laframboise knotted the game at 3-3 in the dying minutes of the second period.

Leardi’s go-ahead goal with 90 seconds left in the third period gave the Stars a 4-3 win and automatic berth in the finals while London took the long road.

On New Years Day, Amherstburg and London squared off for the second time, this time with the Silverstick title on the line, however there would be no celebration as the Stars fell 4-1 to the Bandits.

2012/2013 Petrolia Silverstick Champions: Amherstburg Midget Major Stars

2012/2013 Petrolia Silverstick Champions: Amherstburg Midget Major Stars

With Silverstick tournament following the double-elimination format Amherstburg and London squared off the very next night to determine the Petrolia Silverstick champion.

After a scoreless first period, the Stars came out flying in the second, scoring three goals by Leardi, Eric Shaw and Ryan Holzel.

Not willing to go quietly, London scored two quick goals just seven seconds apart with two minutes left in the second period.

Lavoie’s goal in third gave the Stars a 4-2 however, Amherstburg saw their lead evaporate when London popped in another two quick goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.

The pace was fast and both team had their chances.

With the puck deep in London’s zone, the puck was sent toward the net where Popel was waiting at the right of the net. After the London goalie made the save, Popel poked at the puck, which sent the puck off the ice a few inches then poked at in again to send it across the goaline for the win.

In the hours leading up to the final game, Popel said he wore a “finalist” t-shirt the Stars were given after they lost to Welland in a tournament in Fort Erie in early December.

“I wore that t-shirt all day then hung it up in our dressing room so all the guys were able to see it,” said Popel. “I hate being a finalist. Being a champion feel much better. I’m glad I was able to step up for the boys, they deserve it.”

Assistant coach Ted Jacob said it was good to see the   Stars to continue to battle after giving up a three and two goal lead.

“We never lost our confidence and didn’t get down on ourselves,” said Jacob.

“It is amazing,” said head coach Matt Fox. “The midget program has had some success being finalist in back-to-back years. I glad I could be apart of helping these kids win. For many, if not all, this is their first Silverstick title.”

“It’s a great feeling an accomplishment,” said Stars captain Eric Shaw. “It proves were are one of the best teams in our area and it’s good to get a big win going into playdowns.”

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