The Penetang Flames Paul Watson Esso U13 B team won the International Silver Stick Championship this past weekend, becoming the first U13/Peewee Flames team in 49 years to win the tournament. The team joins the 1973-74 Flames as the only teams to win at this age group in PMHA history. Throughout the tournament, the Flames never trailed, scoring first in all 5 games and finishing with a perfect record of 5W-0L, outscoring their opponents 37-4.
The team began their tournament by facing off against the Kincardine Kinucks, both teams ranked #1 and #2 in the province respectively. The Flames wasted no time in getting the tournament started in style, scoring just 17 seconds into the game when Noah Homick deflected a Ray Dion point shot past the Kinucks goalie for a 1-0 lead. The Kinucks would even things up a few minutes later when a long shot eluded Flames netminder, KJ Dunn to make it 1-1. Landen Froud would restore the 2-1 lead, scoring off a pass from Boyd Gerow with just over a minute to play in the first period. With a flood during the first intermission, the Flames had a chance to settle their nerves and came out flying in the second and took over the game. Landen Froud potted his second of the game off a feed from Brady Ridsdale and then Brody Quesnelle converted a rebound from Greyson Ward to make it 4-1. Brady Ridsdale made it 5-1 just 30 seconds later tucking a puck just inside the post after being sprung on a breakaway by Simon Chicoine. The Kinucks fought back in the third scoring just 2 minutes into the frame before adding a power play marker with 5 minutes remaining to cut the lead to 5-3. Stuart Demunnik would restore the 3 goal lead and finish off the scoring with 3 minutes remaining going coast to coast and Flames were off to a great start taking the first game 6-3. Goalie KJ Dunn stopped 18 shots for the Flames who were uncharacteristically sloppy in their own zone forcing Dunn to make more than half dozen big time stops - much to the frustration of the Kinucks players and fans.
The next game for the Flames was against the Montgomery Ice Devils from Maryland, USA. The Flames passing and team speed was too much for the Ice Devils and the Flames came away with a 10-0 victory. Noah Homick led the way with a goal and 4 assists, Greyson Ward scored a hat trick and Landen Froud potted 2 goals to go along with an assist in the win. Carter Morrison kicked in a goal and 2 assists, and Noah Robitaille, Brody Quesnelle, Ray Dion each had singles. Boyd Gerow had 2 assists and goalie Spencer Graham earned the shutout for the Flames.
The third game for the flames went much the same as the second one. The Fort Collins Jr. Eagles from Colorado, USA played a physical, feisty style but the Flames puck movement and skill allowed them to walk away with their second straight shutout 9-0. Greyson Ward led the way with 4 goals, Stuart Demunnik had a goal and 3 assists, and Landen Froud potted a pair for the third straight game to lead the way for the Flames. Owen Homick and Brady Ridsdale rounded out the scoring. Noah Homick, Ray Dion and Carter Morrison each had 2 assists. Spencer Graham earned his second straight shutout in the victory.
The fourth and final game of the round robin pitted the Flames against the Mt Brydges Cougars. Both teams were 3-0 heading into the game and a berth in the finals of the tournament was on the line. In the end, the Flames left no doubt playing a near flawless match to handily beat the Cougars 8-1 and earn a spot in the finals forcing the Cougars and Kinucks to face each other in a play-in game the next day. Greyson Ward scored his 3rd straight hat trick and Stuart Demunnik and Landen Froud had a goal and 2 assists each. Ray Dion, Brady Ridsdale, and Carter Morrison had singles, Noah Homick had a pair of assists and KJ Dunn stopped all but one shot for the victory.
With their spot in the finals secured and a bye in hand, the Flames had the opportunity to take a break and enjoy the city of Sarnia. On Saturday night, they were able to attend a game between the OHL's Sarnia Sting and Kitchener Rangers, where the Sting emerged victorious with a score of 4-2. Thanks to some local connections with the Sting, the team was able to go behind the scenes of the arena and meet some of the players, including World Junior gold medalists Ethan Del Mastro and Ben Gaudreau. The arena and player facility tour, and special dressing room visit was arranged by Midland resident and Sarnia Sting GM Dylan Seca, and as a nice touch was led by Penetang Flame alumni and ex-NHL goaltender Pat Desrochers. The players and their families had an unforgettable experience, thanks to Pat and Dylan's efforts.
The following day, Flames faced off against the Kincardine Kinucks in the final game of the tournament. Both teams were full of excitement and nerves. A rematch of their first game of the tournament, the Flames knew the difficulty of beating a team twice in the same tournament and focused on playing a cleaner game and giving up fewer quality chances in their own zone. Three and a half minutes into the first period, a Flames penalty put the PK to the test against the Kinucks offense, but it was the Flames who struck first with Noah Homick finishing off a beautiful give-and-go on a 2-on-2 rush with Greyson Ward to put the Flames up 1-0. Despite generating quality chances, the Flames could not finish in the rest of the first period and most of the second period and the score remained 1-0 heading into the final minutes of the period. That all changed when Noah Homick walked the full length of the offensive zone starting from behind the net and circling right to the top of the Kinucks zone before firing a shot through traffic on the Kinucks net. Greyson Ward found the rebound and fired it home to give the Flames a 2-0 lead heading into the second intermission. In the third period, the Flames picked up where they left off. Just 30 seconds into the period, Noah Homick knifed a puck from behind his own net to Greyson Ward on the side wall. The Kinucks defender turned to face the big winger but his backwards skating was no match for the speed of Ward who beat him cleanly to the outside before sliding the puck 5 hole to give the Flames a 3-0 lead. The Flames continued to press after that and while their hard work was not rewarded with goals, it was rewarded with power plays. With just over 8 minutes remaining, the Flames were given a 5-on-3 advantage. Simon Chicoine started the sequence that would see the Flames take a 4-0 lead by expertly recovering the puck from the corner and then moving it high to the point for Greyson Ward. Greyson drew his defender close and then passed over to Boyd Gerow. He similarly sucked in his defender before sliding the puck low to Noah Homick. Noah deftly one-touched the puck across the crease to Brady Ridsdale who easily slid the puck into the wide open net. The Flames final goal of the tournament perfectly epitomized their team play with all five players touching the puck prior to putting it into the net. From there, KJ Dunn and the Flames defense shut the door. As the clock buzzed zero, the Flames celebrated their victory with gloves and sticks flying through the air to the cheers of their parents, grandparents, siblings and other Flames supporters.
This was the first International Silver Stick championship for PMHA since the 2017-18 and 2018-19 U15/Bantam teams proudly won back-to-back titles and the eighth overall in PMHA history. It was especially sweet for many of this year's players who were part of the ISS finalist team 3 years ago at U11/Atom age group - losing 2-1 to Mooretown in the finals in 2019-20, and then being unable to compete for the championship due to the COVID induced cancellation of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 tournaments.
PMHA teams to win International Silver Stick titles are:
The Flames finished with 6 players in the top 10 in tournament scoring led by 1. Greyson Ward (12G-2A-14Pts), T2. Noah Homick (3G-10A-13Pts), 7. Landen Froud (7G-3A-10Pts), 8. Stuart Demunnik (3G-6A-9Pts), 9. Carter Morrison (2G-6A-8Pts) and 10. Brady Ridsdale (4G-3A-7Pts). Goalies Spencer Graham (0.00 GAA in 2 Games) and KJ Dunn (1.33 GAA in 3 Games) were the top 2 goalies in the tournament.
The Tournament All-Star team was selected by the International Silver Stick committee and included 4 Flames and 2 Kinucks. F Greyson Ward, F Brady Ridsdale, D Stuart Demunnik and G KJ Dunn were proudly selected to the team joining F Matthew McKeag and D Cal McQuillin from Kincardine.
The U13 B Flames have been so overwhelmed with the backing and dedication of their families, the association, the community and all of our supporters this season. We are forever grateful and cannot express our sincere thanks enough.
Go Flames Go!
Back Row: Aaron Dion (Coach), Mike Demunnik (Coach), Duane Homick (Coach), Kal Johnson (Coach), Shawn Ridsdale (Trainer), Doug Ward (Trainer), Greyson Ward, Carter Morrison, Brody Quesnelle
Second Row: Landen Froud, Ray Dion, Simon Chicoine, Stuart Demunnik, Brady Ridsdale
Third Row: Boyd Gerow, Noah Homick, Owen Homick, Noah Robitaille
Goalies: KJ Dunn, Spencer Graham