The EDSS boys brought home the silver from the provincial championships vin Barrie last week, a fitting conclusion to an exceptionally strong season for the hockey team.
Battling through some of the best secondary school teams in the province, the Elmira squad made it to the championship finals on March 22, where they were ultimately knocked out in a 5-2 decision against Toronto’s Neil McNeil High School.
Despite falling just short of the coveted gold, the Elmira contingent had plenty to be proud of, said head coach David Munroe.
“It was great. The boys played really, really well. We beat some really good teams and put ourselves in a position to play for gold,” said Munroe. “We lost to a really good team that went undefeated in their season, so nothing to hang our heads about.”
The Lancers went into the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) on March 20 seeded fourth out of 16 teams after a perfect performance at the regionals earlier this month saw Elmira win its first boys’ hockey county title in 60 years.
Coming in as the top ranked team of their pool, the Lancers were able to go undefeated in the first leg of the tournament, holding their own against the St. Thomas of Villanova Wildcats, the St. Peter’s CSS Panthers and the St. Theresa of Lisieux CHS Lions.
The quarter-final match against the Waterdown Warriors was won on razor thin margins, with the Lancers squeaking by with a 2-1 victory. The semis were anything but close, however, as Elmira took down the Lawrence Park Panthers in a stunning 4-0 game.
It was at the gold-medal contest against Neil McNeil HS that the Lancers finally met their match.
The game proved to be every bit as challenging as expected; but while the Toronto-based team ultimately took home the win, the Lancers weren’t going to make it easy for them. EDSS kept it a one-point game for much of the match, tying the team twice after Neil took the lead in the first and second frames, with both knotting shots coming off the stick of Lukas Shantz.
“They got a goal pretty early and then we tied it up,” recalled Munroe. “They had three guys on their top line who were pretty unreal. So then they got a second one, we tied it up [again], then they got a third one, then it was 3-2 into third.”
The scoreboard was still at a nail-biting 3-2 well into the third when the Toronto team finally managed to put some distance between them.
“It was like that until about five minutes left, and then they shot one off our guy’s stick and it went in,” added Munroe. “We had to our goalie because it was getting down to the wire, and then they got an empty- netter to make it 5-2.”
Munroe admits it was a little disappointing to get so close to the OFSAA gold and lose, but he contends the team were ultimately happy with the performance.
“They felt pretty good about getting into the game, and obviously the loss stung a bit, but after that they felt pretty good once the dust settled; they realized that they finished second in the province and they had accomplished quite a lot,” he said.
The team also got some support back home at the Elmira high school, where the Lancers’ games were being streamed in the cafeteria and classrooms.
“So there was a pretty good buzz around the halls as well which was nice,” he said.
The Lancers may have gone into OFSAA relatively unknown, but with a silver in their pocket they’re sure to be a force to reckon with next season.
“It’s nice to get your name out there. … When we talk to people, at OFSAA and that, a lot of them haven’t heard about Elmira high school, so it’s nice for them to hear about us and recognize how good these boys are at hockey, for sure.”
While the Lancers’ season is over, the players won’t be kicking back anytime soon. Returning from Barrie on Friday, many of the players had to swap out their school colours for those of the Jr. Sugar Kings, as the Ontario Minor Hockey Association Midget A team is currently embroiled in a series of its own.
The Jr. Sugar Kings are currently in the midst of a battle with Centre Wellington in the playoff finals.