U16A AP RAIDERS WIN OMHA CHAMPIONSHIP!, News (Ajax Pickering Minor Hockey)

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Mar 31, 2024 | APRadmin | 1361 views
Back from the Brink: The U16A Raiders' Epic Comeback for the Red Hats

"After a successful yet disappointing finish to the 2022/23 season losing in the OMHA final game to Woolwich, these hockey players were determined to finish the job in 2024. They were in good form having won the league title and the Lakeshore Championship but were facing stiff competition over the Easter weekend at the OMHA Championships in Whitby. These players got an opportunity for redemption right away playing Woolwich in game one. It was an intense, tight checking game that ended in a 1-1 draw.  In fact, all the teams were so evenly matched that after completing the round robin, our Raiders finished first in their pool with 1 win and 2 ties. As if scripted, the Raiders faced off in the semi-finals against the same opponent as the year before, the Erie North Shore Storm. The determination and grit shown from these players is hard to quantify. 
Many of the players were carrying an injury into Sunday, including Hugo Lagasse and James Helewa, both suffering painful leg injuries during the last game of the round robin. James spent some time in the hospital Saturday evening but was determined to try it. Not only did the boys play, they set the tone for all the others who came up with an amazing team effort. In what we can only call their finest game of the season, the Raiders dominated from the first puck drop and won a spot in the final defeating the Storm 4 to 1. The final was a round robin rematch with the Barrie Colts. The Raiders decided to make each game more interesting this tournament by letting the opponent go up 1-0. So when Barrie went up 1-0 it was calm on the bench, nothing they hadn’t dealt with all tournament and their confidence remained high. Things changed a smidge when Barrie scored on the Power Play to make it 3-0. Facing the potential of yet another finals loss they had a chance to show just how resilient they can be. Like they have done all season, they didn’t go quietly into the night.  Noah Falcon, whose competitive streak is other-worldly fired a cross seam pass to Owen Ivany who, as he always does, beat the goalie with a perfectly placed shot. With the goal and the crowd’s reaction, the Raiders found their legs and the pace of the game ramped up. Within a minute of the Raiders first goal Barrie was on their heels and were forced to take a penalty. The Raiders power play didn’t waste any time.  Our captain and missile launcher Nicholas Bourke snapped a laser from distance entering the net where the crossbar and post meet to make it 2-3. The bench and players on the ice went ballistic realizing their Red Hat dreams are still alive. The 3rd period looked a lot like the Semi-Final vs Erie with the Raiders dominating possession and chances. Then came another highlight reel goal. Four minutes into the third, Griffin Merton pulled the puck off the wall and snapped a rocket by the Barrie Goalie’s ear and into the net to make it 3-3. The coaches and players smelt an opportunity and with five minutes remaining Bourke fired a point shot into the mixer where the puck banked off Jack Jamieson’s arm dropping to his well-placed stick. JJ didn’t waste any time, smacking it between the goalies legs before he could set.  It was 4-3 and the Raiders had the lead coming all the way back from 3-0. With five minutes away from a championship, all the Raiders were able to protect the lead. They swarmed the Barrie puck carriers, limiting Barrie’s chances.  Even when Barrie got close, the Raiders goalie, Myles Matier was there to keep the net empty.  When the final buzzer sounded, the players, coaches and supporters went wild.  The release represented the pent-up desire over the previous 363 days to win that one extra game and the Red Hats.


These players are a special group.  Their relentless pursuit of getting better all season was incredible to watch.  They had a clear goal from the start of the season and were selflessly dedicated to helping their team get there. These special kids are: #4 Nicholas Bourke(C), #43 Griffin Merton(A), #92 Oliver Kim(A), #98 Noah Falcon(A), #8 Jack Jamieson, #13 Iain McIsaac, #17 Robbie Forsythe, #28 Hugo Lagasse, #29 Bobby Leeman, #30 Cole Manning, #55 Noah Castro, #63 Connor Ladrillo, #77 Owen Ivany, #80 Myles Matier, #81 Reid Potashnyk, #88 Owen Lewis, #95 Jake Yu, #97 James Helewa.


The U16A Raiders want to reciprocate the love we felt during the season and especially over Easter weekend.  Parents, siblings, friends, and extended families were all there in support every step of the way.  Given the final was 5pm Easter Sunday, the team didn’t expect to see such a massive turn out from the extended Raider nation.  Every time something went well the Iroquois Park Pad 1 got extremely loud.  That support went to their legs and definitely helped the boys come back from 3 down.  Thanks to all that showed up, texted, called and cheered the team on, it means a lot. 


The Raiders also want to thank Coach Jordan Marshall and the Barrie Colts for such an amazing game.  They truly pushed us to the limits of our abilities.  Competition like that makes everyone stronger.  We would also like to send a huge thanks to Whitby and the OMHA for hosting another amazing final tournament.


Job Finished"