Woolwich’s team fell out of the running, but three players from the township not only kept going, they were part of the squad that last week claimed the Cherrey Cup as the top team in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Midwestern Conference.
En route, Evan Buehler, Matt Schieck, Andrew Brubacher helped the Waterloo Siskins eliminate the Elmira Sugar Kings in the second round of the playoffs before vanquising the Stratford Cullitons in the conference finals on April 5.
The Siskins are now playing the Caledonia Corvairs in the hunt for the Sutherland Cup and the Junior B crown.
“The win was great, it’s always fun winning, we played well,” said Schieck this week of the Cherrey Cup victory.
The young forward was traded by the Sugar Kings last year.
Brubacher, who played with the Kings two years ago before joining the Siskins, says the team had a cohesive feel during a difficult season.
“I think it was pretty difficult, it was definitely the most fun year that I had. It’s more of a younger team so we were well-bonded compared to some other teams.”
After serving the Cullitons their first home-game loss on April 1 and taking a 3-1 lead, the Siskins earned the cup in a 4-2 decision during the following Saturday’s game at the Allman Arena in Stratford.
And their biggest competition so far?
“I’d say Elmira was the biggest competition, the best rivalry. We went to seven games and every game we played against them was a fight,” said Schieck.
Did coming into the Dan Snyder Arena to face jeering and booing dismay the local players?
“It was a little weird at first, especially because I played there last year too, but it wasn’t too bad because we had a lot of fans and friends and family who supported us,” said Schieck.
While understandably focused on the current series, the three players have some varied plans for next season.
“Grandpa Brubacher over there is retiring,” joked Buehler, who has always played with the Waterloo team.
Brubacher is heading to Conestoga College for marketing, while Buehler hopes to continue playing while looking for a job.
Schieck is taking it one day at a time as he looks at future school opportunities.
Siskins’ president Curtis Clairmont says players handled the season well. Clairmont has a soft spot for Woolwich sports after spending several years coaching locally at the minor league level.
“From the standpoint of the players [the season] wasn’t difficult at all. We have a lot of good players with good character that made it maybe easier than the last one,” he said.