Novice 3 - Cinderella Season for the Ages
Back in September, we knew we had a talented group of players. Our goals for the team from the beginning were lofty. With some hard work and determination these little Aeros had all the tools a great hockey club needs.
However, what we witnessed...
through the regular season wasn’t quite what we had drawn up from the beginning. As the season began the teams early success was impressive.
Losing in the finals of our first tournament to a very strong team that we had beat in the round robin was a tough but valuable lesson. That feeling of loss was something that fuelled the momentum for the rest of the year.
Fast forward to the end of January with an undefeated regular season and 2 tournament championships under our belts, we were handed another tough but valuable lesson. We experienced our first league loss of the year in the very first playoff game of the season to the Stratford Warriors. The following weekend, we were in tough again and dropped the 2nd of our first 4 playoff games when the Sarnia Sting shut us out 2 - 0.
As hard as the team took these 2 losses, I truly believe it was exactly what we needed to prepare ourselves for a playoff, playdown and Alliance Championship run.
Battling hard and winning our next 8 playoff games earned the Aeros the top seed in going into the semi final playdowns against the Stratford Warriors. We knew Stratford was going to be fired up and confident having handed us our first loss only a few weeks prior. In game 1 the Aeros had a 1 goal lead and missed a couple of chances to end it with the Stratford net empty. With just under 20 seconds left, the Warriors tied the game 2 - 2. Half way through overtime Beaulieu scored the winner to get the ever important first win of the series.
Game 2 was a much different looking Aeros team. With arguably one of our most solid performances of the season, an 8 - 0 win earned us a birth in the Alliance West Championship against the North London Nationals.
An extremely talented North team was anxiously awaiting to take the crown in the finals. Game 1 found us down very early in the game. Both teams had plenty of chances throughout. Both teams were fired up and ready to go. This one ended with a final score Aeros 7 - Nationals 3.
We were down early in game 2 and North was pressing very hard on the forecheck for most of the game. The team kept chipping pucks out of the zone and we managed to get our chances. When the clock ran out the Aeros were Champions of the Alliance West with a 4 - 2 victory!
The last chapter for our Novice 3 team was the Alliance Championships. The top 2 teams from the East / Central and the top 2 teams from the West were staged for a great weekend of hockey. Our Aeros started things off on Friday with 2 dominating wins against the 2 Brantford 99'ers teams. A 7 - 0 win along with an 8 - 1 win put the team in a great spot in the round robin. Our 3rd contest was an early morning game on Saturday against our friends from North London. The winner of this final round robin game would earn a bye straight to the finals on Sunday morning. Like the final game of the West Championship, North took an early lead. Our resilience paid off as we were able to battle back and earn a birth in the finals with a 5 - 2 win.
Later Saturday afternoon North won an OT thriller against Brantford in the semi-finals. The stage for an Aeros - Nationals Alliance Championship Final was set.
We knew North would be hungry with their last shot to take us down. They were hot out of the gate with more pressure than we’ve seen from them all year. Once again, North jumped out to a lead with a goal from Tassi. Late in the 2nd Beaulieu tied it up 1 - 1. Then early in the 3rd, Butler put North back up with a 2 - 1 lead. It wasn’t long before Hudson tied it up once again right off an offensive draw. Both teams exchanged chances making it a very exciting and intense 3rd period. With 5:35 left to play Tassi put North back on top 3 - 2. Having already tied it up twice only to have given the lead back each time, it would have been easy for the team to pack it in. There was no quit. A quick answer from Beaulieu to tie the game once again at 4:19 had overtime written all over this script. Then with only 1:32 left in the 3rd a rebound jumped out to the top of the circle and Chamberlain stepped up from the point and wound up a slapper to score the winner! They did it. Alliance Champions!
On behalf of the coaches, I’d like to congratulate the team on an incredible season. We could not be more proud of your hard work, dedication and accomplishments. Earning 4 separate Championship titles is an amazing feat for a group playing in their first year of competitive hockey.
A massive thanks to the coaches Josh, Jamie and Dan for their time and commitment to the team. A big thank you to the parents, grandparents and siblings for their countless hours at the rink for practices and games. Another shout out and thanks to the the following parent volunteers for their help all year long. Our team manager Melissa, our treasurer Chantelle, our jersey peeps the Kellys and the Cunninghams, Pauline, Brenna and the Danns for their fundraising coordination and efforts, the Hudsons for lugging around the team banner all year, Sonya for the herding of cats and scheduling at the Bob Stark tourney and for taking the occasional photo ;), to the dads who stepped up for on ice help when coaches were working. Thank you everyone for your ongoing support and enthusiasm. We’ll all share these great memories for a lifetime! Many thanks.
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