St. Thomas get the best of Barrie again capturing the OMHA bantam A final at home
a year after winning at minor bantam in front of their fans
Saturday, March 30, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
ST. THOMAS - The Barrie Jr. Colts may just be starting to have nightmares about visiting St. Thomas.
For the second year in a row, the St. Thomas Millcreek Plumbing Jr. Stars captured an Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) championship on home ice, defeating Barrie in both finals, this year for the bantam A title.
Ashton Ivanyshyn, Aiden Shaw and Braylen Dowson scored as St. Thomas blanked Barrie, 3-0, in game five of the six point series, at Memorial arena. Goalie Will Richardson stopped all rubber shot his way for his biggest shutout of his career, leading the Jr. Stars to a six points to four victory in the final.
"It was back and forth action. It's amazing. I just love the feeling of going back to back. Best feeling of my life," said Ivanyshyn, who gave St. Thomas an early 1-0 lead that the Jr. Stars clung on to for nearly two periods. "It was really hard. We just had to keep the momentum up and keep on putting pucks to the net."
Shaw allowed the Jr. Stars to breathe, tapping in a Brent Hagerty pass, two minutes into the third period.
"They (Colts) have a great goalie and it was an amazing pass from Hags and I just shot it and hoped for the best," said Shaw. "We needed a cushion. The second goal really helped us gain confidence."
Dowson added insurance mid period.
A year ago the majority of this St. Thomas team with head coach Rob Richardson, won at the minor bantam level. That series needed the maximum six games, with the Jr. Stars edging the Colts, 4-3, in the decisive match, held in St. Thomas.
Jump back to the major bantam final 12 months later, with the Jr. Stars winning games one and three, while the Colts tied the series, by taking games two and four.
"It's hard to do it one time yet alone get back here again," St. Thomas assistant coach Aiden McCullough said. "We have to credit it all to the boys because they go out there and produce for us. It's an honour to be part of it."
St. Thomas went 15-5-1 in the OMHA playdowns, eliminating Riverside, Southpoint, Welland and Owen Sound, on their way to the final.
Four times the Jr. Stars clinched a series with a shutout win, including shelling their opponent, 6-0, in Owen Sound,
That set up the rematch against Barrie.
"It's just doing the little things. We know we're both good teams, us and Barrie," Stars' assistant coach Jordan Babb said. "It's whoever makes the least amount of mistakes because both teams like to capitalize on those mistakes."
Scoring first in game five was another vital key for the home side.
"This is our barn and we don't lose in our barn and we have to get the first goal," said coach Richardson. "Win in our own barn and score first, the rest just takes its course."
St. Thomas had opportunities to double their lead in the first period, including hitting the post during four on four action. Both sides had power play time in the middle frame but failed to capitalize.
"We just don't quit. There are lot of hard workers in that room. We just don't quit. It's a pretty special group," coach Richardson said. "We started the game off strong and we finished strong. There are couple things we need to work on in our own zone, but outside of that, we're resilient. We work hard."
The season isn't over for the Jr. Stars, as now they head to the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) bantam A championship, April 11-15, in Temiskaming Shores.
The five team tournament will feature the OMHA, Alliance and Northern Ontario association champions, along with the host team and the Barrie Colts. The Greater Toronto League won't have a representative, so the OMHA sends two teams.
The Jr. Stars and Colts won't have to wait long to see each other again. The schedule maker has the foes meeting in the opening game.
"They (Colts) don't quit. They keep coming at you," coach Richardson said. "It showed here (game five). They kept coming at us. They forced our D to make mistakes in our zone. They're a great hockey club."