Tonietto’s shutout springs midget majors to OMHA finals

 

 

Zak Fritsch goes crease hunting during third period action in Game 5 versus Owen Sound last Sunday afternoon at the Libro Centre. PHOTO BY JOHN HOLZEL

Zak Fritsch goes crease hunting during third period action in Game 5 versus Owen Sound last Sunday afternoon at the Libro Centre. PHOTO BY JOHN HOLZEL

Colin Leardi, Ryan Holzel, Marshal Laing and Zak Parlette celebrate empty net goal that sealed the deal in a 3-0 win versus Owen Sound. PHOTO BY JOHN HOLZEL

Colin Leardi, Ryan Holzel, Marshal Laing and Zak Parlette celebrate empty net goal that sealed the deal in a 3-0 win versus Owen Sound. PHOTO BY JOHN HOLZEL

Midget Major goalie Daniel Tonietto  prepares for an oncoming shot, while  teammates Ryan Wismer and Marshal Laing defend  the zone during second period action on Game 5  versus Owen Sound. PHOTO BY JOHN HOLZEL

Midget Major goalie Daniel Tonietto
prepares for an oncoming shot, while
teammates Ryan Wismer and Marshal Laing defend the zone during second period action on Game 5
versus Owen Sound. PHOTO BY JOHN HOLZEL

Special to the RTT

 

Strong goaltending is never overrated. Just ask the defensemen on the back end of the 2013-14 Amherstburg Stars midget major squad.

It can lose you a series, or in the Stars’ case, it certainly can be the defining difference in any series that can make or break you.

Stars’ netminder Daniel Tonietto played simply flawless in the pair of games he was assigned to protect the crease in and his play was the difference as the Stars now advance to the OMHA finals against the Ajax Knights.

The Stars travelled to Owen Sound last weekend with the series tied at two points each and they took a thrilling Game 3 by the way of a 2-1 score. The next afternoon, they dropped Game 4 as Owen Sound came attacking with a 6-2 victory to force Game 5 back in Amherstburg Sunday afternoon.

The Stars defense played their best game of the series by far in Game 5 and rode Tonietto’s coattails to a 3-0 shutout and punched their ticket to the finals.

In Game 3 last Friday, the Attack opened the scoring midway through the first period but it was the Stars who would take the lead as a pair of goals only 40 seconds apart being the difference. Tonietto would deny any more chances to get past him as he led the Stars to a 2-1 victory.

Mitch Holden sent a pass to Cory Burns and on his way to the net, Burns was felled but centre Noah Renaud would jam home the equalizer. A pinpoint pass from Robbie Lavoie to Colin Leardi and a subsequent pass to Ryan Holzel gave the Stars the second goal which was all they needed to go up four points to two.

In the Game 4 loss the next afternoon, goalie Thomas Demarco didn’t get much offensive support as the Stars could only muster up a pair of goals as Zak Fritsch and Jacob Damico combined to feed point man Zak Parlette and his slapshot found the back of the net to equal the contest at one each but that is as close as the Stars would get as Owen Sound rode their powerplay to victory with two extra-man goals in the third period for an easy 6-2 win.

Renaud would cash in his second in two games for the Stars’ second goal with help from Burns and Holden.

A Game 5 showdown was needed to see who was off to face Ajax and the hometown Stars gave their fans a chance to wave their cowbells as a powerplay tally thanks to a goal only six minutes in. Marshal Laing’s flip pass to Holzel down low saw Holzel slip the rubber to a streaking Leardi and his backhand would find an open spot just inside the outside post for a 1-0 Stars advantage.

With under a minute to play in the opening frame, a pinching Zak Parlette separated his man from the puck and he shoveled it over to winger Holden and his high bullet eluded the Attack netminder for a shorthanded 2-0 lead.

The middle period saw both teams exchange chances but in the last period, with just under two minutes remaining, Tonietto stopped not one, but two glorious chances by the Attack and an empty net goal by Leardi would send the Stars to the finals.

After the thrilling Game 5 win, trainer Rick Wismer said: “Tonietto was the difference today. He stepped up big for us and each save seemed to be more confident as the game went on. We gave our coach the best birthday gift of his life tonight.”

The Stars are thrilled to be joining the bantam major team and also the novice Stars as they all lined up to take a drink from that golden fountain of success. Good luck boys and go Stars go!”

The midget majors will open the finals this weekend at home with Game 1 being Saturday night at 8:10 p.m. while the second game will be Sunday at 1 p.m. Check www.amherstburghockey.com for subsequent dates and times.

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