April 5, Kindersley, Saskatchewan
The North Shore Winterhawks clinched a spot Friday night in the Western Canadian Bantam AAA Championships final Sunday with their third win in a row at the Western Canadian Bantam Championships, in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.
But it was winning game two in the morning that set it up, and which coach Jim Dinwoodie had stressed was going to be the key to the team’s year long objective – to get to Sunday’s final.
In that game the Winterhawks eventually defeated a larger, physically stronger Winnipeg Hawks team, in a classic 4-3 battle.
After a tense evenly played opening, North Shore captain Dante Hannoun converted on the team’s second power play at 11:58 of the first.
Then, 37 seconds later, Winnipeg’s Vince Loschiavo was assessed a two and a ten for a hit from behind on D Clint Colebourn. Seconds later, the Winterhawks struck again., this time Keyvan Mokhtari from Hannoun .
It looked like the Winnipeg team’s attempt to physically dominate the BC team was backfiring.
When Justin Alemeida’s stretch pass hit NSWC Jordy Bellerive as he left the penalty box it looked like the key three goal lead was imminent.
But ‘Peg goalie Ryan Jubic stood firm, blocking Anholt’s low glove-side attempt on the Bellerive pass.
The period ended 2-0 instead of 3-0, and was still anyone’s game.
In the second period, the physical play intensified, and the momentum began to shift to Winnipeg. Then, two quick goals a minute apart from Winnipeg tied the game.
The next goal would be huge. It would go to NSWC a minute later.
The play started when D Nolan Kneen made a beautiful reverse pivot to clear traffic then skated over the blue line and feathered a lead pass to Quinn Benjafield who was streaking down the right side of the ice. Benjafield scored on a long wrist shot that seemed to catch Peg tender, Jubic by surprise. The high shot caught the top part of the next, and the Winterhawks finished out the period 3-2.
The action resumed fast and furious in the third period with Winnipeg tying the game early in the frame on a goal from Nolan Patrick, his second.
But again the NSWC’s first line responded quickly, on another goal by Benjafield on a beautiful saucer pass from Dante Hannoun, at 16:08, and to end the scoring at 4-3.
Game three, at 7:30 pm, was a bit of a snoozer in comparison. The Winterhawks opened the game with dominating puck possession but couldn’t beat Prairie Storm goaltender Alex Geddes.
Then later in the period, Jared Legien rifled a high top shelf bullet past Cole Demers to give the Storm a 1-0 lead going into the second.
The Winterhawks quickly responded when the second period got underway.
Tak Anholt scored less than a minute in, then Dante Hannoun added another 13 seconds later. Before the period was out, Quinn Benjafield, Hannoun and Keyvan Mohktari would add to the total.
Legien’s second goal got the Storm to 5-3 mid-way through the third. But again the Hawks responded quickly with another goal from Anholt to regain control.
Anholt would notch an empty-netter to close out the game.
The team faces Team Alberta, the South Side Athletic Club Lions Saturday at noon Central Standard Time. A win for either team will clinch first place in the tournament. A tie would put the two teams in the final.
A Lions loss and two wins by Winnipeg Hawks would put Alberta and Manitoba in a tie for second behind NSWC. However, since the Hawks and Lions tied each other 3-3, the tie-breaker that would come into effect would be first goal scored: which was by Winnipeg’s Linden McCorister.
Webcasts of the all games are available at http://www.fasthockey.com/login.php
Tournament website is http://www.2013bantamaaawesterns.ca/