Novice LL3 Championship Playoff Run, News, Novice LL#3, 2014-2015, LL (Woolwich Minor Hockey)

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Novice LL3 Championship Playoff Run
Submitted By DZehr on Friday, March 27, 2015
Woolwich Wildcats Novice LL3 Championship Playoff Run

It has been some time since the boys of Novice LL3 strapped on the equipment and tied up their skates to play their first full Grand River Local League regular season game.  The coaches had an idea we might have something special after pulling out a 10-2 win in Paris in October.  

The regular season ended on January 31st, with the Novice Wildcats LL3 finishing in 9 th place out of 22 teams good for first seed in Division C.  The other teams included Twin Centre 1 in 10th, Wildcats LL4 in 11th and Twin Centres 2 in 12th place.

Game 1 of the round robin playoffs, the boys found their legs in the 3rd period but not in time to catch up losing 3-2 to Twin Centres 1.  In game two, the boys played hard knowing they couldn't lose two in a row and with a hard fought game defeated Wildcats LL4  by a score of 3-2.  After meeting some tough teams in a tournament in Oshawa, the boys returned to play Wildcats LL4 again but needed to pull the goalie to tie the game with 14 seconds left finishing the game at 4-4.  At this point, LL3 had a record of 1-1-1 and were scheduled to play Twin Centres 1 who only needed to defeat our boys to clinch a finals play-off spot.  The boys played their best game of the season pulling out the 2-1 victory.  The next day the boys played an even better game pulling out a 5-1 win against Twin Centres 2 who hadn't won any playoff games yet.  At this point, the Wildcats LL3 had clinched a tiebreaker and could clinch a playoff final with either a loss between LL4 and Twin Centres 1 (winner advancing) or simply taking care of business against Twin Centre 2 on March 7.  Twin Centres 2 did not want to go quietly and made it difficult but our Wildcats pulled out the win clinching first place and later heard that LL4 had defeated Twin Centres 1 to advance to the finals.

The Finals - A Showdown between Wildcats LL3 and LL4

There was no working together at practice between LL3 and LL4 on March 12th before Game 1 of the finals.  The stage was set now for a showdown.  The LL3 boys knew two things, i.e., Woolwich would be champions of the Grand River Local League Novice C Division and LL3 had not lost to LL4 this season but the games were close.

Game 1 - March 23rd 

With Luke S. in goal, LL3 started slow spotting their rivals an early goal making it 1-0 but before the end of the first Tyson B. and Riley D. both score unassisted markers to make it 2-1 for LL3.  The second period would be another open skating style of game with Riley D. netting his second for a 3-1 and again he bulged the twine early in the third for the hat-trick to make it 4-1.  LL3 was feeling pretty good and shifted into cruise control.  Unfortunately, LL4 was not going to give up that easily and at 2:30 left in the third the score was tied 4-4.  With overtime looming, the coaching staff rallied the troops to give a final push to avoid overtime.  At 1:08 of the third period Riley D. raced in toward the goal to get his fourth goal assisted by Tyson B. and Evan W.  Coach Zehr called a timeout to get the power line out to defend first and pressure in the offensive zone second.  The boys pushed hard and pinned LL4 deep in their end zone to end the game with a win 5-4.

Game 2 - March 25th

Kyle Z. started in goal putting Luke S. at centre.  The boys of LL3 were told tonight we take care of business.  This is our Stanley Cup finals. LL3 emerged from the dressing room full of energy fired up for a battle of the Wildcats.  And boy what a battle it was.  Both teams were working hard and playing a tight checking game giving little room for each team to move.  Mid-way through the first, LL4 took a good shot but Kyle Z. snatched the puck out of the air with his trapper.  The boys kept checking but the game would remain scoreless until 4:44 of the 2nd period when Evan W. coming on the ice from a line change found the puck wide open at centre.  He picked up the loose puck and went in on goal all alone making sure the goal light came on.  It was 1-0 for LL3.  The boys kept pushing hard to keep the puck away from our goal but at 6:15 of the 3rd period, LL4 scored to tie the game and end the shut-out bid.  LL3 as have so many games this season then turned on the jets and got that goal back at 4:56 making it 2-1.  Just when the boys thought it was wrapped up, LL4 slipped the puck through Kyle Z. in goal to tie the game at 1:21.  The coaches new we were destined for a thrilling overtime as fans started to filter in for Game 1 between the Sugar Kings and the Cullitons for the MidWest Jr. B final.  The Wildcats were not only playing in front of their families but now the local Jr. B fans were watching what would be an exciting finish.  The overtime got underway and the checking grew even tighter but while Riley D. and Tyson B. were on the ice near the redline with less than four minutes to play, Riley picked up the loose puck and skated direct toward the LL4 goal being tightly checked from behind all the way to goal.  Even though his skating was being restricted from behind, Riley fought through the tight back checking of LL4 and got a shot off.  The gloves and sticks went flying as the twine bulged and the goal light lit up.  LL3 pulled out the dramatic Game 2 win in overtime with Riley scoring unassisted.

After receiving the championship trophy and taking pictures, the boys returned to dressing room to celebrate and take more pictures.  Team LL3 finished the playoffs with a record of 6-1-1 and an overall Grand River Local League record of 16-8-2.  

This was a great bunch of boys the whole season and the coaching staff are proud of the boys in how they developed individually and as a team including how they developed a sense of team resiliency as they learned to come back when behind.
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