Ward's Automotive wins Regional 'Stick'

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Tillsonburg Ward’s Automotive novices were undefeated in five games at the Pelham Silver Stick Regional Hockey Tournament to win the Novice A division, Dec. 27-30.

The novice rep hockey team will travel to St. Clair Shores, Michigan later this month to play in the International Silver Stick tournament.

Tillsonburg 8, Dorchester 0

The Tornadoes opened against Dorchester on the 27th of December with an 8-0 victory.

“That was a really good start to the tournament,” said Ward’s Automotive coach Trevor Lamb. “The kids were ready for it.”

Tillsonburg came out flying with three goals in the first period.

“We didn’t really give Dorchester a chance to do anything offensively.”

Tillsonburg scoring recap: Beau Jelsma 3 goals, 1 assist; Hayden McLean 2 goals; Eli Newson 2 goals 1 assist; Liam Hicks 1 goal, 2 assists; Owen Harris 1 assist; Brandon Balazs 1 assist; and Nolan McCrossin 1 assist.

Tillsonburg 6, Fort Erie 5

Later on the same day, Tillsonburg outgunned Fort Erie 6-5 with a late comeback.

The Ward’s Automotive novices opened scoring, but Fort Erie tied it late in the first period. After taking a 3-1 lead in the second, Tillsonburg added a fourth goal early in the third.

“I think the team lost a little bit of focus,” said Lamb.

Fort Erie scored four consecutive goals to take a 5-4 lead. In the round-robin Tillsonburg’s coaches were not allowed a third-period timeout, but with each shift they continued to encourage the players.

“We did a great job keeping the play mostly in their end. Just a couple lapses that cost us a couple goals.”

With three minutes left to play Tillsonburg scored the game-tying goal at 5-5, then Michel Laundrie set up Beau Jelsma with 1:21 remaining to win it.

“We had a little lapse in focus, but I think it was good for the kids to come back and show they really wanted to win the game. It was good to see they didn’t give up – they had the determination to pull it out.”

Tillsonburg scoring recap: Beau Jelsma 4 goals; Hayden McLean 1 goal, 1 assist; Eli Newson 1 goal; Nolan McCrossin 1 assist; Liam Hicks 1 assist; Owen Harris 1 assist; Michel Laundrie 1 assist

Tillsonburg 10, Pelham 0

After starting 8 a.m. Thursday morning, the novices had an even earlier start Friday against host Pelham, dropping the puck at 7 a.m. The Tornadoes dominated right from the first shift.

“They were on fire throughout the game.”

Tillsonburg reached double digits playing against a goalie who made a lot of good saves.

Tillsonburg scoring recap: Beau Jelsma 3 goals, 1 assist; Hayden McLean 2 goals; Brandon Balazs 2 goals, 3 assists; Eli Newson 1 goal; Liam Hicks 1 goal; Owen Harris 1 goal, 2 assists; Devin Hawley 2 assists; Michel Laundrie 1 assist; Brandon Homick 2 assists; Mallory Collins 1 assist.

With three wins Tillsonburg received a bye into the semifinals, skipping Friday afternoon’s quarters.

And on Saturday, Dec. 29, the Ward’s Automotive novices were back on the ice at… 7 a.m. … again.

“For some reason the novices always get those time slots,” Lamb noted. “It never changes.”

Pelham’s Regional Stick was played in three centres, including Welland’s twin pad. Tillsonburg had played its first two games in Wainfleet, and the next three in Pelham.

Semifinals

Tillsonburg 8, Fort Erie 4

Fort Erie advanced out of the quarter-finals with a chance to avenge the round-robin loss to Tillsonburg.

“Maybe we’re a morning team, I don’t know,” coach Lamb laughed, “which is probably good for the kids… but not for the coaches.”

Tillsonburg went up 1-0 late in the first, then added four goals in the second to lead 5-1. Both teams netted three in the third to make it 8-4.

“The kids kept their focus. They showed their heart and determination, that they wanted to go to the final of the Silver Stick, and put it out on the ice for the whole game, not just a couple periods here and there.”

Tillsonburg scoring recap: Beau Jelsma 3 goals, 1 assist; Brandon Balazs 2 goals, 3 assists; Owen Harris 1 goal, 2 assists; Nolan McCrossin 1 goal, 2 assists; Brandon Homick 1 goal; Hayden McLean 2 assists; Devin Hawley 1 assist; Mallory Collins 2 assists.

“You could tell how well we were playing as a team – lots of assists on each goal. Some beautiful passing plays.”

The key, said Lamb, was how well they played as a team.

“Everybody has their role on the team, and the kids played great the entire weekend.”

Finals

Tillsonburg 6, Port Colborne 1

Tillsonburg was quick out of the gates in Saturday afternoon’s final scoring two minutes into the game.

The Tornadoes led 2-0 after a period, added three more in the second, then a late third-period goal to beat the team that eliminated them in the semifinals last year.

“You could see it in their eyes, they were getting pretty tired. Five games in three days. Getting up early. The whole ‘Silver Stick’ thing. Staying in a motel room.

“They went out and showed how much they wanted to win the Silver Stick. It was a total team effort right from our goalies, who made the saves when we needed them, our defence, our forwards… a total team effort all around.”

Tyler Bouck and Tristin Zeller shared the work between the pipes.

“They push each other to be the best goalies they can,” said Lamb, pleased to have a duo split the goaltending. “It’s great to see them working so hard in practice. When you’re 7-8 years old, and not getting a lot of shots, you tend to lose focus – but not these guys. They stay right in the game and make the saves when we need them.”

The Regional Silver Stick championship qualified the Tornadoes for the 2013 International North American Silver Stick tournament in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, tentatively starting the 25th.

“We had a pretty decent run last year, we were close to winning it, but we were a pretty young team. I think we gained some experience,” said Lamb, noting they have eight veterans.

“We keep challenging them with exhibitions against higher classification teams and they seem to take it up another level. We beat some of those teams. They challenge themselves and their own teammates to be the best they can be on the ice. It seems like they take it to a new level every time they play.”

Tillsonburg scoring recap: Owen Harris 1 goal; Brandon Homick 1 goal; Hayden McLean 2 goals, 2 assists; Nolan McCrossin 1 goal; Michel Laundrie 1 goal, 1 assist; Beau Jelsma 2 assists; Devin Hawley 1 assist; Mallory Collins 1 assist.

The International Silver Stick tournament has roots going back to 1958, the byproduct of a 1956 bantam exhibition game between Potsdam, NY and Ottawa West.

The original 1958 tournament, for peewees and bantams, has grown into one of the largest minor hockey tournaments in North America involving more than 65,000 players and coaches across the continent. Age divisions were expanded, then girls hockey became part of the Silver Stick in 1997, and AE divisions in 2000.

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