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A Sudbury trifecta at NOSSA hockey championships

St. Charles, Horizon, and Lo-Ellen all headed to OFSAA
A trio of Greater Sudbury high schools are headed to the OFSAA hockey championships. (File)

SDSSA hockey teams used a variety of different methods to secure their respective spots at OFSAA earlier this week, as NOSSA playdowns were contested in North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury.

None would take a more nerve-wracking approach than the St. Charles College Cardinals, who survived being pushed to overtime before edging the Korah Colts from Sault Ste. Marie 2-1 in the Boys A/AA championship at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex.

After being stymied repeatedly by Korah netminder Dawson Hunter, who finished the contest with 34 saves, the Cards broke a scoreless tie at what seemed like the perfect time, when Cole Molyneaux stuffed home a rebound with just 58.1 seconds showing on the clock.

Unfortunately, the Colts proved nothing if not a resilient bunch, as Ben Flemming buried the equalizer with just under 35 seconds to play, somehow left all alone, just off a faceoff, right in the middle of the slot.

In the end, however, the better team would win. Joel Emond sprung speedy forward Tayler Bedard down the left wing wall, with the St. Charles veteran making no mistake in tight, tucking the puck just past Hunter and advancing his team to provincials in Kincardine from March 19 - 21.

"We knew that it wasn't going to be an easy game, we knew that we were going to have to work hard," said tournament MVP Matty Belanger. 

The Cardinals had to overcome a couple of hurdles en route to the banner, including dropping the final three games of the city final to the Lo-Ellen Park Knights after seemingly being in full control early on.

"When we were up 2-0 on Lo-Ellen, we were more on the cocky side, and it kind of bit us in the butt," said Belanger. "At NOSSA, we kept concentrating, we were much more focused." 

Still, there would be a last-minute defensive lapse, one that could have proven to be absolutely decimating if not for the calm demeanour of the coaching staff.

"Coach (Darren) Michelutti reminded us how good it would feel to lift up the trophy, as a team, and that got the boys pumped up," Belanger said. 

The Horizon Aigles were equally as pumped in the Sault, as they faced the St. Mary's Knights in the NOSSA "AAA" final, having already dropped a 6-2 decision to the hometown favourites in game one of round robin play.

The rematch, however, was drastically different. The Aigles, who finished in top spot in regular season play in Sudbury before being upset by Lo-Ellen in the SDSSAA semi-finals, never trailed in the gold medal encounter, receiving a hat trick from Cameron Mundy, single markers from Cody Lauzon and Mathieu Poliquin, and an outstanding performance between the pipes from Blake Barnard in garnering their first ever NOSSA boys hockey banner.

After seeing only Eric Bourassa and Ben Lacroix find the back of the net in game one against St. Mary's, the Horizon offense exploded against Confederation. Caleb Rainville scored twice and solo markers came from Bryce Brunet, Andrew Demers, Eric Frappier, Bourassa, Mundy and Lacroix as the Aigles stopped the Chargers 8-5.

Christian Gaudreau (2), Ethan Boyd, Landon Thomson and Aiden Chmielak countered in a losing cause for Confed. It was a somewhat similar story in North Bay, albeit with fewer goals, as the Lo-Ellen Park Knights girls hockey team captured the NOSSA title to go along with their first ever SDSSAA championship just one week earlier.

The St. Joseph Scollard Hall Bears from North Bay edged the Knights 2-1 in the preliminary round, only to see the Sudbury girls turn the tables in the final, riding goals from Katie Chomiak, Emma Dyer and Alexandra Lumme to a 3-2 victory.

Horizon will make their way to Barrie coming out of the March break while the Lo-Ellen crew is in Midland at the same time. The Knights have been tagged with the #10 seed, St. Charles is a 12 and Horizon has nowhere to go but up, slipped into 16th in the pre-tournament rankings.