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Rams OFSAA boys hockey champs


Rams OFSAA boys hockey champions 


  St. Joe's captures A/AA provincial high school title going undefeated

  with a 4-1 victory over Lambton Central in the gold medal game



  March 22, 2024


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By Rob J. Ross

WHITBY, Ont. - For the first time in school history, the St. Joe's Rams are OFSAA boys hockey champions.

Donovan Appleford scored twice, including the game winner and picked up an assist, as the Rams dumped Lambton Central from Petrolia, 5-1, in the OFSAA A/AA boys hockey gold medal game Thursday at the Iroquois Park Sport Centre.

"It's sweet. We've been working all season for this. This is what we wanted. We got to the end goal and finished it off," said Appleford, who led the Rams with six goals and six assists over the six games at OFSAA.

After allowing the opening goal just a minute in to the final, the first time the Rams trailed all tournament, George Matsos and Appleford scored seven seconds apart early in the second period.

"We trailed early but knew we could bounce back. We had a hard shift, got two and then took over the game," said Appleford. "Our strength is in our numbers. We have a good squad. We had our whole team going and that is what brought us victory."

Chase Holder made it 3-1, before Appleford and Nicholas Glanville netted goals 90 seconds apart mid third period, locking up victory.

"It's awesome. Absolutely amazing," Rams captain Kiean Silva said. "It's a cool environment here and it's a great experience."

Ethan Silcox picked up two assists, while Appleford, Matsos, Charlie Shore, Adam Hodgins, Matthew Masschaele and Dawson Watson, each had one.

"It's unreal to think about," said Matsos, a Grade 10 player. "I never thought this would actually happen, but it's an unreal feeling."

St. Joe's completes a season record of 19 wins, one tie and one loss, outside of any tournament play.

"Our boys have been committed since day one. They took it upon themselves as a mission at the start of the year they wanted nothing, but to get to OFSAA," Rams' coach Mike Shewan said. "Their commitment, hard work, dedication, it came to fruition today. It's a testament to the skill and development of these kids have had over the season."

Down one after period one didn't faze the Rams.

"Any championship has adversity. We stressed that before the game. You're in the gold medal game. Nobody is going to roll over. That's a bit of a wake-up call. I said, guys, just relax. Keep up our pace and keep pushing the pace," Shewan said. "I wasn't worried. I looked down the bench, okay, who do we need up next for a good energy shift. We took it over right after that."

The Rams had a record of five wins and one tie at the high school provincial championship, scoring 24 goals and allowing only five.

"Very rarely do you not lose at OFSAA," Shewan said. "I think our depth got us through. Our depth wore (team) down. We have four lines that could play in any situation. That goes a long way over six games in three days. It's a war of attrition."

Team depth is what carried the Rams to OFSAA, after taking the Thames Valley Region (TVRA) South-East and then Western Ontario (WOSSAA) titles. It also gives the coaches the challenge of who plays each game.

"It's a tough decision. Every game we had to sit guys," Shewan said. "It takes a lot of thought. We have three goalies and any one of the three could have played every game all year. We had seven solid defencemen and 14 forwards. All of them played at some point and all of them were contributing factors to us getting here."

In the OFSAA semifinals, Rhys Smart and Appleford with the winner scored, as the Rams edged Brockville St. Theresa, the highest scoring team at the tournament, 2-1.

Goalie Callum Besley had the shutout as the Rams blanked Hamilton Sir Winston Churchill, 6-0, in the quarterfinals. Appleford with two goals, Holder, Nate Nuckowski, Sam Taylor and Owen Lawrence scored.

"He's great at skating and amazing hands and he knows where to put the puck," said Matsos, about his linemate Appleford, who also plays AAA hockey with Lambton Jr. Sting. Matsos skates for the Brantford 99ers.

The Rams had two wins a tie in pool play, dumping Orillia Patrick Fogarty, 6-1, Lambton Central, 4-1 and a 1-1 tie with Sudbury St. Charles.

Heading into the South-East final and certainly at WOSSAA, is when the Rams felt they could contend for a medal at OFSAA.

"Once we got to the TVRA championship," Shewan said. "You then sort of get a feeling, right. The buy-in. The guys are starting to get really excited and they're talking about going to WOSSAA and dominating at WOSSAA."

St. Joe's continued their dominant ways at OFSAA, bringing the school their first ever medal in boys hockey. The girls program won OFSAA silver in 2009 and bronze in 2006.

"We stressed that today," Shewan said. "We said, guys, you've an opportunity here to etch your name into school history."

St. Theresa won bronze, blanking Kingston Thousand Islands, 1-0.

On the girls side, representing WOSSAA, the Medway Cowboys from Arva, brought home AAA bronze. Lowyn Weber, Clara Chisholm and Estelle Lebeau scored in a 3-2 win over Centre Wellington out of Fergus.

Ottawa Louis-Riel won AAA gold defeating Brooklin, the host school, 5-4 in the final.

In A/AA action, WOSSAA champs Wingham Madill, went 1-1-1 in pool play and missed advancing to the quarterfinals.





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