Congratulations to The Paul Watson Esso U13 B team that travelled to Kingston this past weekend for the Kingston Canadians U13 AA tournament winning the championship in dramatic fashion 2-1 in OT on Sunday afternoon.
Entering the tournament, the Flames relished the challenge that playing in a AA tournament would bring. Moving up 3 levels from B (bypassing BB and A) to play in the AA tournament, the Flames knew they would be competing with some of the very best teams in the province despite drawing from a dramatically smaller pool of players to build their team from. And wth four teams from Hockey Eastern Ontario, one team from Quebec, and four of the top 15 ranked AA teams in the province in attendance, the tournament had drawn some tremendous talent for the weekend.
The Flames started out smoothly, manhandling the Laval Senateurs in their first game by building a 3-0 lead after one and finishing with 3 more goals over the final two periods for a comfortable 6-0 opening victory. Carter Morrison and Greyson Ward provided 2 goals a piece, and Landen Froud and Brody Quesnelle rounded out the scoring in a dominant performance for the Flames that saw them outshoot the Quebec team 24-8. KJ Dunn had the shutout, and Ray Dion and Owen Homick kicked in 2 assists a piece to help lead the onslaught.
In game two, the Flames ran into a wall - a brick wall named Marco Butera in the St. Catherine’s net. Two early defensive miscues meant the Falcons had built a 2-0 lead just 1:30 into the game on their first two shots. But the Flames showcased their trademark resilience and surged back firing 51 shots at the Falcons net. Butera was up to the task though and other than a first period penalty shot for Greyson Ward, the Flames couldn’t get the puck over the line a second time. A third period empty netter with 29 seconds remaining sealed the deal and the Falcons walked away with a 3-1 victory sending the Flames to their first loss of the season.
Waking early the next morning, the task before the Flames was daunting. To earn a spot in the semi-finals likely required a two win Saturday and they would be facing the formidable 2-0 Ottawa Sting and the hometown 1-0-1 Kingston Canadians. Still, the Flames were ready for battle after a morning of team building and sightseeing in beautiful Downtown Kingston.
Game three was the toughest game of the season for the Flames so far. A back and forth game with great passing, great defense and great goaltending saw the Flames hold a 2-1 lead late in the third on a pair of goals by Greyson Ward. But a centering pass from behind the net with just 1:29 remaining was deflected and caught by goalie KJ Dunn only to see the ref rule the puck had crossed the goal line before it was snagged and the game was tied 2-2. A devastating result for the Flames despite having taken 52 shot attempts to the Sting’s 32.
Heading back to the hotel to prepare for the final game, the Flames coaches, parents and fans frantically did the math on the standings of the tightly contested tournament. Despite the tie, the Flames were still alive and could earn a 4th place berth if Kanata beat Richmond Hill and the Flames beat the Kingston Canadians in their finale. They would need to showcase the grit and determination that are hallmarks of this team if they hoped to play on Sunday.
On Saturday night in Kingston, the Flames started to catch fire. First, they followed along the live scores of the Kanata-Richmond Hill game to learn that Kanata had won 4-1 which meant a Flames win would put them through. Paced by three assists from Noah Homick and a goal and an assist each from Brady Ridsdale, Boyd Gerow, Carter Morrison, and Greyson Ward, the Flames hammered the hometown Canadians 5-0. Brody Quesnelle kicked in another goal and Spencer Graham completed the shutout. The win would set up a rematch between the Flames and the first place Ottawa Sting in Sunday’s semi-final.
Sunday afternoon would be the biggest game the Flames had played since last year’s OMHA finals. But with plenty of experience in big game situations, they knew exactly what they needed to do. The quiet and confident leadership of the Flames veterans was on full display as Penetang surgically picked apart the Sting defense and thwarted every Sting attack with strong defensive play and hard back checks. A signature first period goal by Noah Homick on a surreal feed from Ray Dion was all the Flames would need. Greyson Ward and Carter Morrison provided second period insurance goals and the Flames controlled the game from start to finish. KJ Dunn shut the door for his second shutout of the tournament and the 3-0 victory propelled the Flames into the finals to face the Gloucester Rangers for the championship.
With both teams fighting off the fatigue of their 6th game in 3 days, the game would be a physical battle between two very evenly matched teams. The Flames opened the scoring early in the first with Greyson Ward scoring from the left hashmark on a partial breakaway. The Flames peppered the Rangers goalie the rest of the first period looking for more but couldn’t come up with a second goal. In the second period, the Rangers flipped the script and took it to the Flames eventually finding the equalizer with about 4 minutes remaining. After a tense third period resulted in no goals for either team, the game headed to a 3-on-3 5-minute overtime. With Spencer Graham looking on from the goal crease, the Flames trio of Noah Homick, Stuart Demunnik and Greyson Ward would attempt to win the game and bring the championship back to Penetang. Following a face-off win by Noah Homick, the puck never again crossed the red line. Homick out battled a Rangers defenseman before feeding Stuart Demunnik at the point. Creeping in from the point and looking like he was about to shoot, Demunnik deftly fed Greyson Ward who was left unguarded at the top of the left circle. Greyson caught the pass while taking one step to his left and fired back to his right under the goalie’s glove and the celebration was on: 2-1 in OT - the Flames were champions!
Greyson Ward, Carter Morrison and Noah Homick finished in the top 10 in scoring for the tournament. KJ Dunn tied for the GAA lead for all goalies and Spencer Graham was tied for third. But this was a team effort and the defense led by Stuart Demunnik, Ray Dion, Boyd Gerow and Simon Chicoine was the backbone that propelled the forward group that also included Landen Froud, Owen Homick, Brady Ridsdale, Brody Quesnelle and Noah Robitaille.
The coaches and parents couldn’t be more proud of this group. Years in the making, the hard work, commitment, and teamwork that these boys have engrained in themselves has set the path for the success the team is having so far this year with two tournament wins and many more exciting tournaments and games still to come.