Sudbury 80s success from near and far
by Randy Pascal
For the Hearst Peewee “AA” Lumber Kings, the trek south to attend the 31st edition of the Sudbury 80’s Tournament already constituted one
heck of a jaunt. So what’s an extra hour for rookie defenceman Troy Liebigt and two of his teammates.
“I live in Hornepayne and just joined the team this year,” noted the youngster, moments after his team claimed their divisional championship with
a 5-1 win over the Nickel City Jr Sons. “I wanted a little bit more of a challenge in hockey, so I decided to try out for a rep team. They’ve taught
me a lot of things that could be improved with my skills.”
It turns out he wasn’t alone in feeling the need to expand his horizons, joining some friends in forming a troika that already had some familiarity with
some of the Hearst talent via their experience with spring three on three hockey in the past.
“There are three kids on our team that are from Hornepayne, so we take shifts,” explained Liebigt. “One day, my dad will take everybody, the next day,
somebody else will take everybody.” It seems to be working out pretty well so far. Come championship Sunday, the Lumber Kings received two goal efforts from
Mathieu Comeau and Xavier Boulanger and a solo marker from Liebigt in skating to victory.
“Everyone is friendly and really likes to pass to each other,” noted the talkative blue-liner of his new mates. “We’re working a lot on positioning. In
front of their net, we’ve got to have a triangle, so one person on each post and one in front. You pass to the front of the net so somebody will be open to
shoot on net.”
“In the defensive zone, we play man to man,” Liebigt continued. “You pick a guy, you stay on him. If he has the puck, you get it away from him and pass
to your team and they go on a breakaway.” Sometimes, however, it’s not quite that simple.
Just ask the Copper Cliff Midget “AA” Redmen, who twice rallied in the third period to force overtime before Jamie Wahamaa propelled the
team to a 4-3 triumph over the Toronto Avalanche, converting with 10.2 seconds remaining in the three on three second overtime period.
“I’ve been with Copper Cliff for 11 years and this team is probably the best we’ve ever had,” said veteran rearguard Ethan Bronicheski. “We had
some new players come in and other players leave. The whole group is amazing, a great mix of personalities and talent.”
The Redmen needed every bit of that in getting past the Avalanche. Trailing 2-1 in the third, the locals drew even with about five minutes to play
courtesy of a goal from Noah Lagrandeur. The GTA crew responded quickly, as Thomas Kostyk joined teammates Samuel Ghantous and
Stefan Cancian on the scoresheet. It was time for last minute desperation.
With less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation, Eric Bourassa redirected a pass through the slot perfectly, forcing the extra sessions, before
Wahamaa capped off a scoring parade that also included a first period goal from Lindon Shanks. The contest marked the third time this weekend the
teams had met up, splitting the opening two encounters.
“The first two games were really sloppy,” stated Lagrandeur. “We were tired, we had three games that day, so this game, we wanted to pick it up and make
sure that we skated a lot with the big ice surface. We’re a fast team.”
That was the plan, one that should have received a natural boost when a Toronto player was ejected following a major penalty and game misconduct for
slashing, midway through period two. “To be honest, our breakout wasn’t our usual at all,” said Bronicheski. “We were really slacking on the passes. In the
second, we definitely picked it up after the slashing penalty.”
Both 16 year olds played with the Redmen midgets in 2016-2017, a team which often struggled to ice a full lineup of fifteen players or more. “Last year,
we were always gassed, staying out on the ice so much longer, playing defensively,” noted Lagrandeur. “This year, we’re always pushing, pushing, pushing,
both offensively and defensively.”
By the time overtime rolled around, the Copper Cliff crew was primed for success. “Three on three is more protective, but you have to take your chances
when you get them,” said Bronicheski. “Two years ago, we were in this same position in this same tournament and we finished, so I had no doubt in my mind
we could win that game.”
It was the second of six finals that would extend beyond regulation, as Mason Walker completed his hat trick with the teams playing two on two,
lifting the Copper Cliff Minor Atom “AA” Redmen past then Sudbury Minor Atom “AA” Wolves 5-4. Kaden Wicklander and Denver Mulligan
rounded out the scoring for the winners, while Drake Taylor, with a pair, Liam Kuhn and Lincoln Lachance replied for the Wolves.
The Novice “AA” final would see Ronan Grant (North Bay Trappers) and Sam Piette (Sudbury Wolves) trade first period goals
that were scored a mere five seconds apart, handling all of the scoring through two periods of play. Truth be told, the story in this contest was North Bay
netminder Bruce Laronde, who would finish the contest by stopping 22 of the 23 shots directed his way, many with a very hot glove hand.
By the time the third period rolled around, the Trappers were able to provide some offensive support, courtesy of goals from Owen Smith, Mike Culbert
and Raine Bradley, chalking up a 4-1 win. Meanwhile, a very balanced attack would lead the Mississippi Thunder Kings to a 7-1 win over the
Temiskaming Shores Puckhounds in the Major Atom “A” gold medal game.
Seven different players lit the lamp for the Thunder Kings as Leon Vance, Henry Grabe, Nolan Shail, Grayson Greco, Brayden Desjardins, Jorian Hogan
and Quinton Tunks all shared equally in the scoring, with Ryan Miller (2) and Liam Major countering for Temiskaming.
The one remaining final included some drama as Briir Long netted his second goal of the game with 1:28 to play, making all the difference in a
2-1 North Bay Major Atom AA Trappers victory over the Nickel City Jr Sons. Lucas Dubois drilled home the only tally for the Sons.