Championships were doled out, a multitude of dramatic finishes dotted the schedule, but in the end, it was a genuinely sportsmanlike gesture by a 10-year-old netminder that had all in attendance talking as the Nickel Centre Minor Hockey Winter Blast Tournament wrapped up on Jan. 27.
Joel Coulombe is a goalie with the Valley East Renegade Atoms, a very strong team, in their own right. Facing the Walden MTI Atoms midway through the round-robin portion of the tournament, the Renegades posted a fairly lopsided 8-0 win.
Coulombe registered the shutout, hardly a unique feat for the youngster. That accomplishment came with the added reward of receiving a “shutout” trophy, a small piece of hardware that is seen pretty commonly in these parts.
Fair to say that Coulombe's mantle at home likely already contains one or two of these knick-knacks. Upon receiving the award and without any prompting whatsoever, Coulombe darted immediately to Walden goaltender Riley Sabourin, the recipient of a barrage of shots over the past hour or so, graciously handing over the honour to his counterpart at the other end of the rink.
What seemed only natural to an unassuming 10-year-old drew rave reviews, not only from those in attendance in the game, but countless others as well, as the story was shared frequently over the next 24 hours or so.
On the ice, Coulombe and the Renegades settled for silver medals, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Nickel Centre Sting in the A Division final.
Meanwhile, the Walden crew would find their niche in the C classification, walking away with top spot after a 3-1 win over the Gore Bay Atoms.
Braedan Vis scored the game-winning goal with under five minutes to play, lifting the Novice Renegades past the Onaping Falls Huskies 3-2, while Tristan Dufour bulged the twine for the fifth time, scoring in a shootout, as the Dubreuilville Bobcats edged the Gore Bay Bruins 5-4 in the Novice C final.
The Nickel Centre Novice Sting cruised to a title in their A grouping, outscoring opponents 33-3 en route to their championship crown while Brandon Paquette and Adam McGregor scored twice each to lead the Nickel Centre Midget Sting to a 5-0 whitewash of the Walden Red Devils.
In one of the more exciting back-and-forth affairs, Justin Belanger (Renegades) scored with eight seconds remaining, sending the Peewee B final to overtime, only to have Nicholas Doucet net the decisive marker just a few minutes later, propelling the Rayside-Balfour Thundercats past the Renegades 3-2.