Huskies go shopping for precious metals at West Mall, News, Atom A, U11 Atom, 2017-2018 (New Hamburg Hockey Association)

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Huskies go shopping for precious metals at West Mall
Submitted By Scott Soulliere on Monday, September 11, 2017
(by team correspondent Kevin Lederman)

The New Hamburg Atom A Huskies began their 2017/18 season with a trip into GTHL country as they participated in the West Mall Earlybird Tournament in Etobicoke last weekend. With some fresh new faces along with the return of an old friend, the boys along with coaches, parents and fans were all anxious to get an early look at what this team may be capable of this season.

First up Friday night was the host team West Mall Lightning. The Huskies showed no off season rust as they immediately began to pass the puck back and forth pressuring the West Mall defence. As one line replaced the next there was no let up. Throughout the game the Huskies kept the puck in the offensive zone, constantly pressing the play. Any counterattacks were quickly quelled by a strong back check or a flash of the goalie’s glove. When the game was over scoreboard read 5-0 Huskies, with all lines and defensive pairings contributing to the impressive victory.

Saturday morning saw NH take on league rivals Brampton in an 8am tilt. The boys came ready. With all lines again contributing, and the defense blasting shot after shot from the point, the boys skated to a well-deserved 7-2 victory.

The final game of the day was a much anticipated, early afternoon showdown with the Vaughan Rangers, a team coming off a 50+ win season and a league championship last year. For the third time in as many games the Huskies controlled the early pace of play. After several good scoring chances, the boys finally capitalized when with the defense pitching in, a puck came loose in the high slot and was quickly deposited in the back of the Vaughan net. The Huskies added another in the second on a powerplay and, in doing so, continued to display a new found dedication to driving to the net and scoring on rebounds. The Rangers made for some anxious moments when they broke through with a marker late in the third but the team shut them down the rest of the way earning a hard fought 2-1 victory.

Sunday morning’s semi final saw a rematch with a Brampton team that was out for revenge. The Huskies came out strong with the defense chipping in with a early goal from the point. Brampton quickly responded with a goal of their own to tie the game at one. But from that point the defense and goaltender shut down the Brampton goal scorers while the offense went to town scoring 7 unanswered goals, with each line again scoring multiple times. With an 8-1 score in the books, the team had a nearly 6 hour wait before playing their final game of the tournament.

In the finals, the Huskies would have to beat a strong Vaughan team for a second time in two days to claim the championship. From the beginning, it evident that Vaughan wasn’t going to concede anything to the Huskies. In a gritty affair both teams tried to capitalize on the other’s mistakes. The goaltenders made save after save to keep the score tied at 0-0 as the first period began to wind down. Then before anyone knew what was going on, a forced turnover allowed a Huskies winger to go in alone and tuck the puck under the opponent’s cross bar to give New Hamburg a 1-0 lead. Just as the fans began to return to their seats another Ranger turnover sent another Huskies player in and he made no mistake ripping a shot past the Vaughan goalie’s glove and giving the boys a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period.

Now winning tournaments rarely come easy and as the second period began it to become apparent that the Huskies resolve was going to be tested. For the next 10 minutes, the Vaughan Rangers threw everything thing they had at New Hamburg. With injuries and fatigue setting in, the boys began losing the puck battles for the first time in the tournament. Turnovers quickly became scoring chances and the Huskies defense was tested time and time again. It was here that these Huskies showed that they had the hearts of a champion. With their goalie making big save after save (when he wasn’t clearing opponent’s from his crease) and his teammates sacrificing their bodies to block shots, the onslaught of the second period finally ended, amazingly with New Hamburg’s 2-0 lead still intact.

With a talk from their coaches and a little breather the Huskies seemed to find their legs again in the third. Both teams exchanged scoring chances throughout the period but each time the respective goalies were up to the task. As the final buzzer sounded Huskies teammates poured out onto the ice to celebrate together their well-deserved 2017 West Mall Earlybird Tournament Championship. As a group of tired families made the slow drive home down the 401 everyone involved could agree that never again will this group of 17 boys have so much fun and create so many great memories by spending their weekend at the Mall.

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