Nickel Caps heads held high, in spite of tough weekend
by Randy Pascal
The Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves gave it everything they had on Saturday, and it still wasn't enough.
Facing the Windsor Jr Spitfires in one of two 2017 Central Region Midget "AAA" Championship semi-final games, the locals came through with
an effort that
would make Sudburians proud, one that allowed the memory of a game one 7-1 loss to Windsor to fade into the distance.
Midway through the second period, the teams were tied at 2-2. Dylan Weston and Abdul Abouzeeni found the mark in the opening frame for the
Spitfires, with goals from Marc-André Quevillon and Tommy Vlahos pulling the Nickel Capital Wolves even.
Little did anyone know that a one-timer by Justin Bondy at the 12:22 mark of period two would signal the end of the scoring. Despite some great
chances for both teams through the final 28 minutes of regulation time, the scoreboard would not change, locked in at 3-2 for Windsor.
The Spitfires outshot the Wolves 40-35, as goaltenders James Walker (Windsor) and Alex Vendette (Sudbury) looked sharp. The North Bay
Trappers provided an equally impressive account in the second semi-final, suffering a 3-1 setback at the hands of a rock solid Mississauga Rebels
Michael Hill, Bair Gendunov and Liam Mroueh scored for the winners, with Eric Lachance answering in a losing cause. Unfortunately,
the emotions of the Saturday semis seemed to zap the life out of both medal games in Sunday.
North Bay doubled Sudbury 6-3, as six different players found the back of the net for head coach Guy Blanchard and company, while Mississauga
rode a 26-save performance from Christian Purboo and a pair of goals from Elijah Gonsalves to a 4-0 gold medal win over Windsor.
And as the dust settled on the week long tournament, the pride of head coach Peter Michelutti Jr would shine through the sting of the
disappointment of a fourth place finish.
"I can't give enough credit to our players, not only in terms of coming back over the course of this week, and getting better as the week went on," he
said. "But if you look at the whole season, we started off the season with low numbers, we started with five wins and four losses, and people were
questioning whether we should be hosting regionals."
"We tried to keep the same message, that we're going to be there at the end, that we're going to build something," Michelutti continued. "In the end,
we won the league final and make it to the semi-finals here, which was one of our goals."
"You look at the six teams here and Oakville, one of the pre-tournament favourites, did not even make it to the semi-finals." Off the ice, the
organizing committee of the Championships was praised time and time again, running a first class event, and one that will provide a wonderful springboard
to the Telus Cup - Midget "AAA" Canadian Championship being staged in Sudbury in the spring of 2018.