The Minor Atoms went undefeated in the Central Ontario Wolves Cup Classic tournament, this past weekend, beating the Waterloo Wolves 3-2 in the championship finals.
In the first game, against the host team, the Lakers managed to hold onto a 2-1 lead throughout the 2nd and 3rd periods, to take the win. Neve Van Pelt opened the scoring, with an assist going to Nick Jung. However, Central came right back to even things up. Kyle Jones went hard to the net late in the 1st, to tap home a pass from Chayse Herrfort.
Brandan Bean played very well in net, along with all the Lakers defencemen, to preserve the win. Defencemen Keenan Conlon received the game MVP award.
In game #2, the Lakers handed the Oshawa Generals a 4-0 loss. Both Bean and Wyatt Nicholson shared in the shutout. Strong defensive performances were displayed by Liam Melady and Jon Baker; handing out numerous quality checks. Also of note, was the very evident back checking from all the forward lines. Herrfort led the way offensively with 2 goals and an assist, earning the game MVP award. The other goals were scored by Brent West and Jung; with helpers going to Ryley Cribben, Baker and Jacob Hrudka. Of note, two of the Lakers goals were scored short-handed.
The 3rd game, on Saturday morning, was against the Waterloo team. The Wolves scored a goal in the 1st and another in the 2nd, to hold a 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd period. The Lakers penalty killers and goaltending did very well, to keep things this close, through the first two periods. Herrfort got the Lakers on the scoreboard early in the 3rd, but Waterloo came right back to make it 3-1. Herrfort found the net again, on a pass from Nicole Zabel. And to round things off, Jung capitalized on a breakaway, fed by Spencer Dowd and Zabel. The game ended in a 3-3 draw, with Lakers not being able to beat Waterloo yet, in three tries this season. Bean earned a much deserved MVP award.
Game #4 was against the Humber View Huskies, which saw the Lakers skate to a 5-0 win. Justin McCarter lead the way with 2 goals, along with line-mate Herrfort's 1 goal and 2 assists, and other line-mate Cole McKee's 2 assists. Melady chipped in with a goal, a nice reward for numerous rushing attempts. Jung rounded out the scoring late in the third. Other helpers went to Conlon, Hrudka and Baker. Nicholson notched the shutout, and McCarter received the MVP award.
Sunday’s semi-final game was against the 4th place Oshawa squad The Generals scored an early 1st period goal, and held a 1-0 lead going into the third period, despite being outplayed. The Lakers then exploded with 3 power-play goals, as the Oshawa team tired and could not keep up. McCarter scored, from Herrfort & Melady, followed by Herrfort from West, and finally West from Herrfort. Dominic Burbine finished out the comeback with a goal, assisted by Jung & Melady. Again, the Lakers defence played a solid game, keeping the Oshawa players outside, and limiting scoring attempts. Defenceman Spencer Dowd was the recipient of the MVP award.
The final game pitted the Lakers against a confident Wolves team. As in many games, the Lakers found themselves fighting back from behind, with Waterloo scoring the only goal of the 1st period. McCarter evened things up in the 2nd, on a pass from McKee. Waterloo then scored to make it 2-1. However, before the end of the 2nd, McCarter found the back of the net again, assisted by Herrfort, followed up by a short-handed goal by Herrfort, to give the Lakers a 3-2 lead. The Lakers were able to fend off a last minute flurry in the third, to hold on for the win and the championship. Strong back-checking and fore-checking earned Kyle Jones the MVP award.
The coaches made a couple of line changes heading into the tournament, which seemed to have worked out well for the team. Led by team captain, Herrfort, all players gave the effort required, picking up for each other, if needed.
One area that is of some concern is the team’s inability to get on the scoreboard early in the game. Over the 6 tournament games, only 1 of the 21 goals scored was in the 1st period. However, on a positive note, the Lakers only surrendered 7 goals, over the 6 games, and recorded 2 shutouts.
The team hopes to carry this momentum into the last weekend of regular season play, and then into the playoffs.