Josh Paquette

Bulldogs capture SWOSSAA title with win over Lambton-Kent

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Bulldogs are heading to Ottawa to compete for the OFSAA A/AA boys hockey championship after winning the SWOSSAA crown last Tuesday.

The Bulldogs hosted the Lambton-Kent Cardinals at the Libro Centre and came away with a 2-1 victory. A first period goal from Jarrod Benninger gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead by Tyler Hotham tied the score before the first 15-minute period was out.

The General Amherst Bulldogs won the SWOSSAA A/AA championship with a 2-1 win over Lambton-Kent March 1 at the Libro Centre. They advance to OFSAA in Ottawa March 7-10.

The General Amherst Bulldogs won the SWOSSAA A/AA championship with a 2-1 win over Lambton-Kent March 1 at the Libro Centre. They advance to OFSAA in Ottawa March 7-10.

The only other goal of the game came in the second period off the stick of Reid Stieler and that proved to be the game-winner.

“As I’ve been saying all year, it’s a really good group of kids,” said General Amherst head coach Pat Garrett.

Garrett said he was glad to win the SWOSSAA A/AA title in a close game, as it will further prepare the players for tough games at the provincial tournament March 7-10 in Ottawa. He noted all three games against Belle River in the WECSSAA finals were close and the SWOSSAA game was a one-goal affair.

“I thought our boys took the play to them in the first two periods,” Garrett said of Tuesday’s contest. “We played to protect the lead in the third period.”

Goalie Josh Paquette was “fantastic,” Garrett added, noting the “whole group played well” during the game. Paquette also played in the WECSSAA clinching game, meaning he has only allowed one goal in the last two games, but Garrett stressed there is no number one goalie on the Bulldogs. He said Paquette will split games with Jack Langlois at OFSAA.

The team will again have to compete without one of its top scorers in Justin Veldhuis, who broke his clavicle in the third game of the WECSSAA final against Belle River. Garrett said he would have aimed for the medal round with Veldhuis in the lineup and will still aim that high, though he admitted it will be more difficult.

“I’d like to get to the medal round and represent WECSSAA well,” said Garrett.

General Amherst captain Garret Blunt (left) and alternate captains Zach Yott and Colton McGregor accept the SWOSSAA A/AA championship plaque March 1.

General Amherst captain Garret Blunt (left) and alternate captains Zach Yott and Colton McGregor accept the SWOSSAA A/AA championship plaque March 1.

The trip to Ottawa is the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work, he continued, stating the coaches want to see good hockey played but also to have the players enjoy themselves.

Paquette said the team is thrilled to earn a trip to the nation’s capital to compete at OFSAA.

“It feels amazing,” said Paquette.

The team is making its first trip to OFSAA since the 2008-09 season and Paquette said they have been trying to get back ever since he joined the team.

“Finally, we got the right group of guys and we worked together as a team,” said Paquette.

Paquette said he’s been fortunate to have a couple of good games in a row, but credited his teammates for any success that happened.

“I’ve got a good team in front of me,” said Paquette.

The team is excited to go to OFSAA, he added, and that the players have been looking forward to it since the beginning of the season.

“We’re going there to try to win it,” he said, adding they also want to have some fun while in Ottawa.