The Woolwich Major Atom AA hockey team laid claim to their second consecutive Ontario Minor Hockey Association championship thanks to a three-game sweep of Whitby on Mar. 23. The team is virtually the same lineup as the Minor Atom A team that took home the OMHA title last season, one of four Woolwich teams to make it to the finals. “It’s nice to put a bit of a stamp on this year where we were maybe a bit of an underdog,” said head coach Tony Code. The team made the jump to the AA level of play this season, and Code said many teams may have overlooked Woolwich with the assumption that they were in over their heads.
The team responded to the higher level of competition by wrapping up the OMHA title in just three games.“We were able to prove people wrong and that’s a testament to what kind of commitment and the hard work that these guys put together every day,” said Code.
The coach said the two teams were actually quite evenly matched, and that is reflected in the score of the opening two games played in Elmira. In Game 1 on Mar. 17 Woolwich managed a 2-0 win with both goals coming in the second period courtesy of Lukas Shantz and Justin Taylor. Goaltender Cyrus Martin had the shutout.
Not to be outdone, Martin’s goaltending partner Riley Demers had his own shutout in Game 2 the next day in a 1-0 win over Whitby, and the lone goal came off the stick of Brody Waters.
In Game 3, with the teams tied 1-1 after the first period, Woolwich responded with two goals in the second and two more in the third to seal the 5-1 win and the 3-0 series sweep. Goals came courtesy of Josh Martin, Lukas Shantz, Griffen Rollins, and a pair from Jake Code.
For the head coach, sealing the deal in Game 3 was important, because in the semi-finals against Oakville the Woolwich team managed to erase a 2-0 series deficit by winning the next three to advance to the finals.
“From a coaching standpoint it allowed me to talk to that and say ‘you can’t take your foot off the gas against this team because we were down and somebody allowed us to get back into it,’” said Code.
Remarkably the team’s season still isn’t finished. They are now preparing to compete in the Ontario Hockey Federation finals that will see them faceoff against the best teams in the rest of the province from Apr. 13-15 in Kitchener. The OHF is the largest of three Hockey Canada branches that govern hockey in Ontario.
“We’re still going. It was a big deal to win the OMHA’s but hopefully we can get re-focused and continue on.”