Stars eliminate Rangers from playdowns

 

By Joel Charron

The Amherstburg Midget Majors Stars have emerged from the Bluewater League victorious.

The Stars eliminated the Riverside Rangers from the OMHA preliminary playdown tournament with a dominating 3-0 win at Essex Centre Sports Complex Sunday evening.

After defeating Riverside last week, the Stars squared off against their familiar foe Saturday night and lost 3-2 in overtime, which forced Sunday’s games in the double elimination tournament.

Frank Desjardins scored both goals in the overtime lost.

Less than 24 hours later the Stars were back on the ice, with Desjardins opening the scoring on Sunday, just 5:56 into the first period.

 

Amherstburg Stars goalie Mitch Topliffe secures the puck as Stars defenseman Matt Rosati is sent soaring over Topliffe to avoid a collision.

The Stars doubled their lead in the second period when Mike Popel found the back of the net on the powerplay in the opening minutes.

Popel sealed the victory in the third with an empty net goal with 2:10 left in the game.

“It’s absolutely gratifying to see a collection of young kids come together,” said Stars head coach Matt Fox. “When the chips are down they are at their best.”

This was the third straight year that Amherstburg has eliminated Riverside from playdowns and winning the final game by shutout against a team they have struggled against all year impressed the coach.

“To shut a team out like that, it’s a credit to the whole team,” said Fox. “It was definitely a complete team effort. From top to bottom we were flying.”

Fox noted that the team needed to quickly forget what transpired on Saturday night.

“We had to forget what happened yesterday (Saturday.) It was all about today,” said Fox. “We knew we had to change to finish it and that’s what we did.”

Popel said it was nice to eliminate a team that had “their number all year.” He noted that the team relied on its veteran players to help push them past Riverside.

“Playdowns are a different story,” said Popel. “We all came to play and we played as

Stars backup goalie Eric Rogic joins the celebration moments after eliminating Riverside from playdowns. Riverside has fallen to Amherstburg in playdown for three straight years.

a team.”

Popel mentioned that he wasn’t surprised that they shut out the Rangers in the final game.

“I’m not surprise one bit,” said Popel. “I think we are a great team. Defensively we all stuck together and Topper (Mitch Topliffe) played outstanding once again.”

Topliffe said Riverside was the team to beat and was pleased the Stars were able to put the Rangers behind them and move on. He mentioned Amherstburg played with more “freedom” Saturday night, knowing they still could have one more game, however the mentality changed Sunday.

“We were like a hurt animal with our back against the wall,” said Topliffe. “We showed them what’s up.”

The Stars are aiming for their third straight OMHA title, however Fox knows they still have a long ways to go.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have nine wins to go get,” said Fox.

The Stars next opponent will be the Welland Tigers from the Niagara region. Games times and venues were not released at press time.

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