(PHOTO: Front Row (from the Left): Ben Woelfle, Chaz Church, Sam Noseworthy, Brayden Salminen, Cameron Cheslock, Marco Flores, Nathan Bond and James Smith. Middle Row (from the Left): Kyle Gnaedinger, Chris Gunn, Ethan Beuree, Owen Carr, Nathan Meilke, Marc-André Vallières and Ashton Hoare. Back Row (from the Left): Mark Hoare (Trainer), Jerry Beuree (Head Coach), Karl Cheslock (Assistant Coach) and Steve Smith (Assistant Coach). Missing from the photo: Luke O’Toole.)
The Stittsville Blackhawks (Atom B6) ended their season in glory! They took home the Playoff Championship for their division line. This was a well earned win against the Osgoode Rideau Senators (Atom B1), to which all the team contributed wholeheartedly.
Game 1 of the Playoffs found the Blackhawks trailing 3-2 in the second period, but the team rallied to tie the game at 3-3. The Senators still had the momentum on their side and quickly regained the lead making it 4-3. With a minute left in the third period, the call was made by Stittsville to pull the goalie in a last ditch effort to tie the game. The gamble paid off in spades! The team rallied together and scored with 20 seconds left on the clock. This was a hard tie, even with home ice advantage.
The following week The Senators were home for Game 2 of the Playoffs and the players from both teams came out with determination to win the game. The Blackhawks had the lead and the momentum this time going into the second period. The Senators, not to be out done, pulled together to tie the game at 2-2. They did a great job holding back the Blackhawks that night!
The March break was now upon us. It would be a week before the two teams would meet again. The Blackhawks entered their final tournament of the year in Kingston during this time. This was the first away tournament for most of the kids and energy and excitement sparked through the air like lightening!
Nervous and excited the Blackhawks entered their first game against the Cumberland Dukes (Newman) and won! The next game was against Athens Aeros (Atom B2), which ended in a loss for the Blackhawks. The coaches wouldn’t let this get the team down though. Points were made on what was done well and what needed to be improved upon. As we approached Game 3 of the tournament against Arnprior (Atom 1) we found out that the Blackhawks still had a shot at the semi-finals. It was a tough game, no question about it but the Blackhawks took the victory once again! The speech was not wasted on the kids, the team played in unison and won the game. They were determined to have that second chance against Athens. This win allowed them to advance into the Semi-Finals the very next morning.
The following day their wish was granted and there was a deep contrast in their style of play. The Blackhawks took the lead in the first period. Athens came back to tie it in the second; the third period was scoreless. In overtime, Athens caught a break when the puck bounced off the post and into the net. The Athens coach congratulated the Blackhawks on their game and said “you should have won that game”. High praise from another team is not easily given, nor was it wasted on the Blackhawks. This just enhanced their pride, not only in what they did, but what they could accomplish going forward.
Game 3 of the playoffs approached on Monday March 23 in Beckwith. The Blackhawks were once again on home-ice. At times, the parents and coaches were more nervous than the kids. The game was very intense! The entire Blackhawks team gave it everything they had. No one gave up, and no one quit! They took the lead in the first period, but the Senator’s wouldn’t let that goal go unanswered and tied it up shortly thereafter. In the second period, the Blackhawks had a break away that allowed them to regain the lead once more. This ended up being the winning goal as the third period was scoreless.
Some of the Blackhawk’s best hockey this season was played during the playoffs. All of these games were close and could have easily gone either way. The team never gave up and gave it everything they had right until the end. The coaches and the parents couldn’t be prouder of this bunch of kids. From the very beginning these kids worked and practiced as hard as they played.
Congratulations Stittsville Blackhawks! You earned it!!
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