Tillsonburg Hogarth Insurance AE atoms doubled the Simcoe Warriors 4-2 Sunday in Simcoe to win the Southern Counties Minor Hockey 'A' championship.
"Back and forth," said Hogarth Insurance assistant coach Greg Mitchell, summing up Sunday's final. "They tied it up 1-1, we went up 3-1, they scored on a power play, and we got an empty-netter."
Brady Rangell gave Tillsonburg its early 1-0 lead, and Braydon Castellani made it 2-1 in the second. Braxton VanRybroeck scored twice in the third, including an empty-net insurance goal with 9.8 seconds left.
"They really put the pressure on us after they scored late in a power play to go 3-2," said Hogarth Insurance coach Eric MacFadden. "Simcoe played well – they kind of pinned us in our own end for a while and we scrambled.
"It was a good game – and I was glad to play Simcoe because we have a lot of respect for their coaching staff and players. They're a great team."
Fourth-place Simcoe had battled into Sunday's final at Talbot Gardens by upsetting first-place Glanbrook.
"Glanbrook had been on a bit of a long run, then Simcoe beat them 5-1 (in the semifinals)," said MacFadden. "Glanbrook was kind of due to have that meltdown. Simcoe also beat Glanbrook out OMHAs in the first round, so Simcoe kind of had their number this year."
For MacFadden and some of his players, Sunday's hockey game was a rematch against Simcoe coach Jeff Dennison, who last season won the SC novice local league final against MacFadden's Tillsonburg team.
"He got me last year," MacFadden nodded.
"It was a good game Sunday, the kids were pretty excited. Now we're going to a 'fun' tournament this weekend in Buffalo – the Pepsi Challenge – an away tournament to send out the season. Now that we've won Southern Counties, it makes it easy to tell the kids at this one, 'hey, go have some fun.' Hope we win, everybody wants to win, but hopefully we have fun. It's going to be a fun tournament."
AE ATOM FINAL
Tillsonburg 4, Simcoe 2
Hogarth Insurance scoring: 1. Brady Rangel (Ethan Scaman, Eric Turrill); 2. Braydon Castellani (Ethan Scaman); 3. Braxton VanRybroeck; 4. Braxton VanRybroeck EN.
Simcoe scoring: 1. Alex Auld; 2. Dylan Langmo