Playing in a home-game atmosphere all weekend, the Woolwich Major Atom AA team secured a third-place finish on the Ontario Hockey Federation finals last weekend in Kitchener. The boys were seeded second in the four-team tournament following the round-robin portion of the competition with a record of 2-1-1, but lost in the semi-final matchup to the North York Knights.
“It was bittersweet, but the kids really held their heads high,” said team trainer Tim Rollins. “To finish third overall in the province is pretty fantastic.”Rollins said that the competition was fierce and that by the end of the weekend the boys were both physically and mentally exhausted. The tournament consisted of three periods of 15-minutes each, compared to 10-10-15 in the regular season and 10-15-15 in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association playoffs.
“Over the span of five games and two days, that’s a lot,” said Rollins.
The tournament started on Friday morning where the team earned a tough 2-1 win over North York, but dropped a 4-1 decision to the eventual champion North Bay Trappers that afternoon.
The team then secured a 3-2 win over London and a 2-2 tie with the Kitchener Jr. Rangers to earn a second-place seed after the round robin.
The team couldn’t put it all together in the semi finals against North York as they fell 3-1. North Bay would go on to beat North York 2-0 in the finals to take the title.
Rollins noted that the crowd for all of their games was incredible as friends and family made the drive from Woolwich to watch the team compete, making all of their games feel like they were being played on home ice – even in the match against the hometown team from Kitchener.
“We can’t thank the fan support we got enough, it was incredible, and they were home games for us,” said Rollins. “We were so excited, the boys in particular, to see the crowd and to see all the kids that came out.”
With their season now over, the team is already looking forward to next year and Rollins said the coaching staff are excited by the fact that most of the players from the current squad are planning to return next year and hopefully mount a defence of their OMHA title and make a return to the OHF finals.
And despite not coming home with the gold, the players understand just how much they actually accomplished this season.
“Although it was bittersweet losing they will remember this for a long time and I think that most of the boys by the time they left the dressing room were holding their heads real high,” said Rollins.
“They did Woolwich really proud.”