Jr Firebirds Claim Regional Silver Stick Title, News (New Hamburg Hockey Association)

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New Hamburg Jr Firebirds - Jr Firebirds Claim Regional Silver Stick Title
Submitted By Allen Denison on Tuesday, December 05, 2017
With a 12-1-1 regular season record, the New Hamburg No Frills Jr. Firebirds Midget A hockey team was looking to continue their winning ways. At the Regional Silver Stick tournament on the November 25th weekend, they accomplished just that. Head coach Jay D’Aguilar said he was “very impressed and proud, not only how the boys played as a team, but the character they had as a team”. With a balanced attack from all three forward lines and solid defensive play the Jr Birds earned the Midland Regional Silver Stick crown and qualified for a chance to win an International title in Sarnia in January.

The road to the regional title was comprised of three shutout wins in round robin play, another shutout win in the semi-final match and an exciting 2-1 overtime thriller in the finals. Game one against the Innisfil Winter Hawks was a penalty filled contest and the Birds made the Hawks pay with two powerplay goals in the first period. Evan Denison opened the scoring midway through the first when he toe dragged a Hawk defender at the blue line and wired a shot over the Innisfil goaltender’s shoulder. Defensemen Lucas Bast and Darcy Mosburger got the assists. Jeff Fritzley was up next, scoring on the pp again when Koby Seiling found Bast on an incredible outlet pass who in turn set up Fritzley for the 2-0 goal.

Thomas Morgan, who was playing right wing as opposed to his usual defensive position due to an upper body injury to forward Sam Miller, was a monster all weekend. Lurking behind the opposition’s defense, he was able to coral another impressive pass from another Firebird defenseman. This time Brad Vitello head manned the puck to Morgan who went in alone and made no mistake depositing the 3-0 tally, top shelf blocker side. Brett Gruber tickled the twine to round out the 4-0 final, assisted by Morgan.

The next Firebird victim was the host Midland Centennials. It was a pretty lackluster affair that New Hamburg dominated by scoring a goal in each of the three stanzas to win 3-0. Goals were scored by Fritzley, Tyler Schwindt and Cole Stannix. Assists went to Mosburger and Seiling each with a pair and Schwindt with a single.

To complete round robin play a regular season league rival, the Dundas Blues, would be the opponent. Physical play was the flavour in the Firebird’s 2-0 victory which was fueled on the strength of two pp goals. Teams really shouldn’t take penalties against these Birds. Thomas Morgan was at it again when Seiling spotted him, where else, but at the Dundas blue line, hitting his tape and sending Morgan in to score his second of the tournament. A blast by Bast on a screen shot from the point assisted by Morgan and Josh Beach found the back of the net to complete the scoring.

South Muskoka was the draw for the semi-final match, and again powered by the outstanding and perfect play of the goaltending tandem of Mavrick Habel and Ty Pierce sharing two shutouts each, a 2-0 result propelled the Jr Birds to the championship game against the Collingwood Black Hawks. Did I mention teams shouldn’t take penalties against these Birds? Both goals scored in the final frame were produced on the powerplay. Denison and Greg Yeoman provided the offense as Beach earned the helpers on both.

With an 8-1 shot advantage in the first period, New Hamburg just couldn’t solve the Collingwood goalie. It wasn’t until 1:37 remaining in the second period that Fritzley set up Beach for his first goal of the tournament. Finally, the unbeaten and not yet scored upon Birds and their fans breathed a sigh of relief. But wait, on a questionable delay of game penalty for dislodging the Bird’s net to Adam Barr, the Hawks were allowed a pp opportunity of their own. With 8:25 to play, Collingwood knotted the game at one.

Play would go end to end until 2:31 left in the third when a bizarre, rarely called five minute match penalty for kicking, was assessed to a Hawk player behind the play. Don’t give the Birds a powerplay! They had chances to end the game but to no avail. No, the teams felt that higher blood pressure and stress was needed to solve who would reign. So it was off to sudden death OT.

Then at 8:03, with 32 seconds left in the pp, a rebound off a drive from Bast was directed by Fritzley who jolted the Firebird fans by ripping the puck into the half empty cage for the golden goal. “Just shoot the puck” remarked Fritzley when asked what was going through his mind. “Pretty pumped about it……..excited. Brings us to International and brings the team together” he said.

“Obviously pretty exciting. It’s a big relief. (These guys) been waiting for (something like) this for a long time” said captain Josh Beach of what this means to the team. “This is a big step for us” said D’Aguilar. “We set a few goals this season and this is our first milestone. The second is International.”

Its unclear how many milestones are set for these young men this season. What we do know is it’s one down. But, how many to go?

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