Mac’s Day 7 – Vancouver NW Giants are Mac’s Champs

in Other News, tournaments

220px-Macs_TrophyThe Vancouver NW Giants are your 2012 Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament Champions. They defeated the the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes by a final score of 3-2.

The Giants needed a last minute rally, double overtime and some game saving heroics from goaltender Bo Didur before Jackson Cressey brought the crowd of over 10,000 to their feet with his championship winning goal.

The Giants looked like they might be in trouble early, with a powerplay being awarded to Carolina, but the Giants were able to keep them off the board.

The Hurricanes would jump ahead moments later with the game’s opening goal, but Vancouver pulled even before the end of the first period. The Giants’ Anthony Conti was set up by Jarid Lukosevicius and Brandon Del Grosso to make the score 1-1.

In the second frame the Hurricanes restored their narrow one goal advantage, a lead that was later tested when Lukosevicius was awarded a penalty shot, but Hurricanes goaltender Sean Kuehn responded to the high pressure situation with a crucial save.

That pressure would continue to mount on the Hurricanes, as the Giants desperately tried to tie the game in the third period. With only twelve seconds left and the goalie pulled, the Giants’ Brandon Del Grosso scored what is likely the biggest goal of his career to date, slipping one past Kuehn to send the game into overtime.

“I just put it in,” tweeted Brandon Del Grosso following the game, downplaying the importance of his late third period equalizer.

“We were just trying to stay focused,” said Giants Head Coach Clint Thornton speaking about the mood on the bench in the closing moments of the third period. “We knew going into the third period that we had enough fire power within our entire lineup that if we wore them down and continued to play that sooner or later they’d crack. I didn’t think it would last that long, but I’m glad that once we got our goalie out of the net we got control in there zone and Del Grosso buried it for us,” he added.

The Giants survived a Colton Kerfoot hooking penalty and both teams were the beneficiaries of strong goaltending in the first overtime period, as neither side could break the deadlock. In the second overtime frame, with both teams on verge of collapse from exhaustion, Jackson Cressey buried the winner.

“Greatest start to the new year anyone could ever ask for,” posted Dom Masellis.

Giants forward Jansen Harkins added that the New Year could mean even bigger things to come. “Hopefully just the start of our team success,” said Harkins.

The Giants put together a perfect 7W-0L record on route to the championship. The Hurricanes were their first opponent able to hold the offensively gifted Giants to less than four goals. The Hurricanes made a gambit to capitalize on fatigue and force turnovers with a trapping system, as both teams were playing their seventh game in seven days.

“The whole tournament was a grind for us,” said Coach Thornton. “I think the players learned throughout the process and that’s what paid off today in the final. We had so much success playing a certain system and playing the right way. When it came down to today against a team that really trapped us, took away our space and contained us in certain areas, we just stuck our game plan and kept putting pucks in front of the net.”

It was the second time the NW Giants have won the prestigious tournament. The club’s previous victory came in 2009. Coach Thornton explained that while this tournament is notoriously difficult to win, the key ingredient was preparation.

“After every game we finished we would prepare for the next one as soon as we came off the ice,” said Thornton.  “I was really impressed with the boys and how they responded. We would enjoy the moment, but it was short lived, and then we’d try to focus on the next challenge.”

With the win, the Giants will be able to savour a hard fought championship at least for a few hours. They travel on Wednesday and are right back to work on Thursday with their sights set on a BCMML title. Screen shot 2013-01-01 at 10.59.27 PM