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Major Atom AA
Jr. Grads add OEMHL championship to regular season title
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

It took them seven games to do it, but the Cumberland Jr. Grads have finally captured the Ontario East Minor Hockey League Major Atom AA championship after downing a stubborn Ottawa Valley Titans team 2-1 at the Ray Friel Centre on Monday night.

The Jr. Grads were up 6-2 in the first to seven points series at one point before the Titans manufactured back-to-back wins on the weekend to force a seventh and deciding game.

In Monday nights winner take all rubber match, the Jr. Grads managed to draw first blood with a goal early in the first period off the stick of Jordan Pedlar who was set up on the play by Nicholas Lapointe.

Cumberland appeared to take a 2-0 lead several minutes later off a scramble in front of the net, but the referee never saw the puck cross the goal line and the score remained 1-0.

One of the key moments in the game came midway through the opening period when a pair of Jr. Grads were sent off on back-to-back penalties which gave the Titans a two man advantage for nearly two full minutes. Try as they might, however, the Ottawa Valley team could not manage any sort of sustained pressure against Cumberland's aggressive penalty kill and the threat passed without any damage being done.

It wasn't until the final minute of the period that the Titans finally managed to get on the scoreboard on a shot from Tye Felhaber that squeaked past Jr. Grads' goalie Miguel D'Aoust. It would be the only goal the young netminder would let in the entire game.

After the two teams switched ends, the Jr. Grads swarmed the Titans' zone in the opening moments of the second period which resulted in a goal by Marc Bertrand just one minute and 29 seconds after play had resumed.

The play was set up by Jr. Grads captain Cole Carter who corralled the puck off a scramble in front of the net and threw it back to Bertrand who fired a blistering shot from the point that just caught the inside of the post. It was the young defenceman's first and only goal of the season and it would prove to be the game winner.

D'Aoust stopped everything the Titans threw at him the rest of the way in picking up the win including a number of difficult saves in the final 1:45 of the game which was almost entirely played in the Jr. Grads end after the Titans had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker.

The Jr. Grads can now add the OEMHL championship banner to their regular season banner they earned for finishing in first place.

The win was especially sweet for the D'Aoust, who was handcuffed on the game winning goal in the Jr. Grads 3-2 loss to the Titans on Sunday that forced the seventh game.

Pedlar led the way offensively for the Jr. Grads in the final series with six goals and four assists, while Carter contributed four goals and three assists. In 16 playoff games the pair scored 22 goals between them.

Jr. Grads head coach Mike Carter was especially happy for D'Aoust who managed to bounce back from Sunday's defeat with flying colours.

"Miguel is a fierce competitor and I knew he'd come back to play in Game 7 with his game face on. He let in the one goal but it was a dandy, so you can't fault him for that and he managed to keep the puck out of the net in the final minute and 45 seconds to preserve the win," said Carter. "Our motto is 'We are one' and that's how we played. There are no individuals on the team. In the end it came down to a guy who hadn't scored all season and he unloaded a canon."

Besides finishing the regular season in first place and winning the OEMHL championship, the Jr. Grads also won three tournaments this season including the Oktoberfest Atom Tournament in Kitchener-Waterloo in October and the CAN/AM Challenge Cup in Lake Placid in December.

Team roster: Marc Bertrand, Nicholas Lapointe, Cole Carter, Jordan Pedlar, Miguel D'Aoust, Brady McNeely, Tyler Baker, Brendan Farris, Maxime Jolicoeur, Tyler Griffin, Brayden Laidlaw, Eric Duguay, Samuel Gaudet, Nicolas Mattinen, Joshua Bourdeau and Mitchell Chatterjee. Head Coach Mike Carter, Ass't Coach Michel Gaudet, Ass't Coach Jeff Baker, Manager Vicki Lapointe, Trainers Glen Farris and Mike Mattinen.

(Posted 10:30 p.m., March 31)

 

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