Volume 12 Week 5

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Minor Hockey
Major Atom A Rangers complete championship hat trick
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Nico Romano carries the Major Atom A championship trophy aloft as his teammates look on following their Game 7 win over the Nepean Raiders on Thursday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

For the Gloucester Rangers good things really do come in threes, as in three OEMHL playoff championships.

On Thursday, the Major Atom A squad became the third Rangers team to capture a championship banner this season when they beat the Nepean Raiders 2-1 in the seventh and deciding game of their seven game series..

After the visiting team won the first two games, the series played true to form the rest of the way with the home team winning the next four games including Thursday's decider at the Richcraft Sensplex.

Playing in familiar surroundings, the Rangers looked every bit like a team on a mission in the first period, outshooting the Raiders 6-1 and scoring the game's opening goal on shot by Nicholas Aubrey that beat a diving Zach Renaud.

The Rangers' dominance continued in the second stanza as they peppered Renaud with another 11 shots. Against Gloucester's onslaught, the Raiders could only muster three shots on goal, one of which beat Rangers' goalie Derrick Champagne to tie the game at 1-1.

The deadlock lasted all of two minutes and 44 seconds before Aubrey scored his second of the game on a pass from Zachay Branchaud who set up the first goal as well.

The Rangers very nearly made it 3-1 before the end of the period when Nick Romano's backhand shot slid just past the far post.

As the game moved into the third period, the Raiders began to play with a heightened sense of desperation resulting in several quality scoring chances, but each one was steered away by Champagne with assistance from his defencemen.

A key point in the game came with 4:55 left in the third periid when a Ranger player was sent off for hooking. Down a man, Gloucester managed to limit the Raiders to just one shot on goal.

The final 1:39 of the third period was by far the most intense as the Raiders pulled their goalie for an extra attacker in the hope of scoring a goal and sending the game into overtime.

The Rangers rose to the challenge, keeping the Raiders at bay as the last few seconds ticked down to the final buzzer, touching off a wild celebration both on and off ice.

The Gloucester Rangers' Nicholas Aubrey stretches out to knock the puck past Nepean Raiders goalie Zach Renaud for his second goal of the game. Fred Sherwin/Photo

With the win, the Major Atom A team joined the Rangers' Major Atom AA squad and the Novice A team as OEMHL playoff champions. All three teams also won the League's regular season crown, making them double banner holders.

For Rangers, head coach Mike Branchaud, winnng the playoff championship was the perfect ending to a great season.

"It was a great series. The kids are so happy, they've worked so hard. I'm really proud of them. They've done well all year. We have a great group of parents. We have a good group of assistant cosches who work with the kids both on offence and defence. So it's a good way to end it," said Branchaud.

Having two teams sweep one age group is also a rare occurence since the best players in most organizations end up on the 'AA' team leaving the 'A' team having to make do with the leftovers.

The fact that the Rangers Major Atom A and AA teams won both the regular and post season championships is a clear indication of Gloucester's depth in the 2005 age group and bodes well for the future.

"There are a lot of kids on this team who would probably be playing AA if they lived outside of Gloucester", says Branchaud.

The Rangers and the Raiders played each other 19 times this season, with Gloucester winning 12 times, the biggest of which was Thursday's series finale.

Aubrey's two goals in the final game were his seventh and eighth of the playoffs, giving him a team-leading 16 points. Atiqtalaaq Uuttuvak, or Q as he's called by his teammares, scored a team-high 12 goals in the post season, while Logan Graham added 10 of his own. The goaltending duties were shared by Champagne and Olivier Roy-Lapierre.

Team roster: Derrick Champagne, Olivier Roy-Lapierre, Nicholas Aubrey, Tomas Labonte, Julian Powell, Zachary Branchaud, Logan Graham, Ryan Spenst, Nico Romano, Atiqtalaaq Uuttuvak, Daniel Kyte, Owen Dimmell, Eryc Laflamme, Adam Viau, Rhys Burgess, Morgan Deslauriers, and George Carson. Head coach Mike Branchaud. Aass't coaches Reno Rushford, Jordan Burgess and Kevin Graham. Manager Rachael Kyte. Trainer Rick Champagne. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(Posted 10:30 p.m., April 1)

 

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