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Monday, Jul. 16, 2018
Cards leave Collingwood, proud of their efforts
2018-03-22
by Randy Pascal

St Charles College Cardinals boys hockey coaches' Rob Zanatta, Darren Michelutti and Casey Thompson have seen their fair share of quality teams come and go over the years.

Few rosters, however, could equal the 2017-2018 edition of the team, in combining on-ice hockey skills with off-ice character athletes.

True, the team came short of its goal of leaving the 2018 OFSAA Boys "A/AA" Hockey Championships in Collingwood with a medal earlier this month. The Cardinals advanced to the quarter-finals but were ousted, 4-1, by a very quick King City Lions crew, the eventual silver medallists.

Despite the loss, all those involved with the St Charles' reps spoke glowingly of the season that was this past winter. "Although we would have liked to have gone further, we are very satisfied with our season and the respect that we earned over the last week," noted Zanatta, preparing for his team's return to Sudbury.

"In the end, we are very proud of this team and its accomplishments." Making the cross-over from a lifetime of rep hockey, forward Mike Morrier did not expect the environment he encountered when he joined the Cardinals as a 12+ student this year.

"I found it quicker, a faster paced game that I wasn't used to," he said. "That surprised me a lot. They are a lot more focused here. When I played rep, no one really took it as serious as these guys do. It's a very disciplined team. The coaches always imply that we are a disciplined team and that we are always going to be a disciplined team."

For veteran Justin Gibeault, it's a bittersweet ending. No OFSAA medal, perhaps, but one great final run with a very memorable group of teammates. "This year, the boys in the locker room, getting ready before games, before practices, it was different," he said. "We're a really solid bunch."

"It seems that we have that bond, we use it on the ice, come out strong and work together, and we've had success." One of several players not blessed with great height, Gibeault was a mainstay in front of opposing nets on St Charles power plays, taking a beating but scoring and assisting on a number of key goals.

He acknowledged that the 2017-2018 Cardinals clearly played to their strengths. "We seemed to know where things were going to be on the ice, used it to our advantage," he said. "If they want to try and hit us, we burn them with our speed and show it on the scoreboard."

There is no doubt that the June graduations will leave a leadership void, with several key mentors moving on from the high school ranks. "Bryceton Lalonde and Callum Roque were very, very helpful," said Morrier.

"They showed me the ropes, taught me what it is to be a Card. They were very welcoming." And that is something that coach Zanatta and company do not necessarily get to see every year.

The St Charles boys hockey team also featured Brody Davidson, Riley Ouellette, Cole Molyneaux, Ayden Popowich, Braedan Gobbo, Spencer Lavallee, Chris Benoit, Matthew Belanger, Josh Piche, Tayler Bedard, Joseph Guzzo, Evan Lamarche, Riley Bridge, Joel Emond and Tanner Webkamigad.

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