Successful season comes to a close for Bantam Major Stars

 

Special to the RTT

 

Although the ending to the Bantam Major Stars season was not what they had envisioned in September; they still have a lot to be proud of.

The Stars travelled to Brampton Friday to bounce back from a four point deficit.  The group was ready to go and confident.

“We had a really good feeling about Friday night.  The boys skated well in the pre-game skate and there was a real positive mood in the room,” said head coach Paul Bortignon.

Unfortunately, it was all for nothing.  Due to an organizational blunder there were no refs scheduled for the Friday night game and right as the Stars were ready to take the ice, the game was cancelled.

Not happy, the Stars retreated to their hotel to regroup.  The players could have reacted in a negative manner and let this situation affect them; rather the team enjoyed its night off at the hotel and tried to make the best of an unfortunate situation.

With the Brampton scheduling error in the rear view mirror the Stars took to the ice for Game 3 on Saturday and were determined to force a Game 4 in Amherstburg on Sunday.

“I was nervous; there was a lot of pressure on the team with our backs against the wall.  I knew we had to play one of our best games of the year and put the puck in the net any time we had chances,” said Stars forward Kyle Meloche.

Now that the ref’s were present and accounted for, Game 3 was under way.  The Stars captured a 1-0 lead 12 seconds into the game on the hard work of a Jake Topliffe breakaway goal.

“All I was thinking was hit the net. I knew that if I scored, it would be a huge boost for the team early in the game.” said Topliffe.

 

Stars forward Kyle Meloche takes a swipe at a loose puck as he his being cleared from the Brampton goal crease.

Stars forward Kyle Meloche takes a swipe at a loose puck as he his being cleared from the Brampton goal crease.

The Stars dominated play in the first period and were not letting this game slip away from them.  Taking a 1-0 lead into the second period the Stars added to their lead on the strength of a Reid “Steady” Thrasher goal.

After two periods in the books the Stars were up 2-1 and 15 minutes away from sending the series back to the UCCUC.   Garret Blunt added to the lead with a power play goal in the third but a defensive zone break down and screen shot made the game 3-2 with 52 seconds to play.

With a resilient push to the finish, the Stars battled and held on for the win.

The stage was set for a miracle comeback and the Stars were determined to head back to Brampton for Game 5 on Monday.  The Stars came out fast and strong, controlling the play for the first period.

The Stars were unable to take advantage of many chances and it was 0-0 after one period of play.  Brampton was relentless in their attack and was able to put two past the stars in the second period.

Going into the third the coaching staff and players were focused on finishing the job and putting the puck in the net.  The Stars had their chances and battled until the very last second but on the strength of an empty net goal Brampton took a 3-0 lead and sealed the OMHA Semi Final series.

“We are all just disappointed.  The season is over.  We didn’t get the bounces we needed and couldn’t find the back of the net.” said Stars defenseman John Purdie, “We were definitely the better team”.

“It’s simple, they buried their chances and got the bounces and we didn’t. They bent but never broke defensively; their goalie was the star.” said Bortignon.  “Our objective to start the year was to change the culture of winning and I believe we did that.  All the credit goes to the 17 guys in that room for believing in us as coaches all year.  We will be back next year to finish what we started.”

The Stars were finalists in two tournaments this year; they won the Fort Erie Invitational tournament and were final four in the OMHA.  The 98 age group had never been to the Semi Finals of OMHA before and now they know they belong there for years to come.

Comments are closed.