Apr 10, 2023 | APRadmin | 386 views
RAIDERS U15A REFLECT ON OUTSTANDING SEASON
This 2022/23 U15A team is a unique bunch. Hockey players from four different teams came together for the first time combining historical rivals from Ajax and Pickering. After a 1-2-1 shaky start, they found their rhythm in the United States, winning the Cleveland Rock and Roll Tournament and soon after, the Bradford Black and Gold tournament. The team kept rolling through the regular season only losing 2 more Lakeshore games finishing 2 points out of first place. The playoffs brought these players to a new level, going undefeated in the Lakeshore final round robin to secure the Lakeshore banner as well as a trip to the OMHA final tournament. As expected, the 12 team tournament included the who's who of Ontario hockey teams. The Raiders were happy to see Whitby hosting as it gave the team 'home ice' advantage. All the players, parents and coaches were amazed by the community support from other teams and Ajax/Pickering parents. Particularly impressive was the constant support from the U15AA Raiders team. These players, unlucky to not be in their own OMHA final tournament, came out in droves to support their friends on the 'A' team. After a tough loss in the first round robin game, the U15A Raiders had a great bounce back game with Orillia, last year's champions coming out with a tie. This momentum gave the Raiders a lot of confidence heading into the knockout round. With the season on the line facing a strong Barrie team, goaltender, Myles Matier and the rest of the team played their most complete game to date winning 2-0 and a trip to the Quarter finals. The quarter final opponent was a familiar Lakeshore foe, the Peterborough Pete's. Both teams knew each other well having played five times already with the Petes leading the season series 3 games to 2. Building off the strong Barrie game, the Raiders continued to outwork their opponents while Cole Manning sparkled between the pipes, securing a decisive 4-0 win. At this point, these players started to believe a Red Hat was possible. The semi-final game versus a strong Windsor area team was set for 8am Sunday morning. It was a tight battle throughout until Oliver Kim fired a rocket top glove with less than two minutes remaining. The Raiders were battling hard to seal the victory but Erie Storm managed to bury the puck in a goalmouth scramble with 20 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. The tying goal was a blow but it did set the Raiders up for a dramatic finish. Halfway through the 2nd overtime period, the Raiders captain, Noah Castro just barely kept the puck in the zone at the blueline, sending it behind the net to the crafty Kim. Kim bought a little time hunting for his go-to-guy Owen Ivany in front of the net. Ivany managed to get his stick open at the perfect time to accept the pass from behind the net. In a flash, Ivany sent the puck directly upstairs before the goalie could react, giving the Raiders a 3-2 victory and a pass to the OMHA final.
The final was not the Cinderella finish all Raider nation hoped for, losing to a strong Woolwich team. The players took it hard but it won't take long for all of them to realize how special their season was. All season, this was a group of young men dedicated to getting better every day while playing only for each other. It was amazing to see old rivals come together so tightly to reach their goals. What started in September as 18 individuals became a band of brothers who can all point at two banners hanging in their rink for years to come.