It was a clean sweep in wire-to-wire fashion for the host London Junior Knights Bantam White team at this year’s triple 20 shootout, a herculean feat considering the team had to defeat 5 top ranked teams while being down 5 players for a majority of the weekend. The boys knew they would be in tough this weekend as they lost two key players earlier in the month to injuries and would have to grind through 5, 60 minute games to get to the finals.
Bantam White started Friday off strong, defeating a talented Whitby side 8-5, while outshooting the opponent 58-26 (!). The momentum carried over to an evening showdown against a perennial AA powerhouse, the Vaughan Panthers. White jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but Vaughan battled back to make it 3-2 early in the 2nd period. A late 2nd period goal gave the boys the breathing room they needed heading into the final frame, as an empty netter late in the 3rd sealed the deal to give LJK Bantam White a 6-3 victory.
Knowing 4 points might not guarantee them a spot in the Quarters, the boys were determined to get out to a fast start on Saturday morning against the Aurora Tigers. White finished the 1st up 3-0, outshooting the Tigers 17-5 in the opening frame. They continued to dominate with great puck possession, scoring 3 more in the 2nd and 1 in the 3rd to finish the round robin with a 7-0 win and a 3-0 record.
Despite winning all 3 round robin games, Bantam White ended up the 3rd seed, losing a tie-breaker with Woodstock and Oakville. This set-up a Saturday night showdown with Ontario’s 3rd ranked Ottawa Sting. The boys got off to a slow start, spending the first 7-8 minutes of the game on the penalty kill. White scored the 1st goal of the game, but was quickly matched by Ottawa, and headed to the dressing room tied 1-1. The 2nd period didn’t start off much better, as White lost another player to a hamstring injury. Now down 3 forwards, the boys had to dig deep and find another gear if they wanted a chance to play Sunday hockey. With their 3 injured players cheering loudly in the crowd, the boys found that extra gear, outshooting Ottawa 22-4 in the frame, scoring 3 more goals. They would add another 4 goals in the 3rd, for a convincing 8-1 win over one of the provinces elite teams.
The competition didn’t get any easier on Sunday morning as Bantam White was set to face the Vaughan Rangers, a biennial OHF favorite, and past champion at the 2004 age level.
Down 3 players, the boys showed incredible resilience, effort and determination as they led the game wire-to-wire, backed by stellar goaltending for a 3-0 win.
This set-up a showdown between the #1 ranked LJK Bantam White and the #2 ranked Oakville Rangers in a matinee final. The game started out well for White as they had numerous scoring chances in tight in the first 5 minutes of the period. However, a few bad bounces in the defensive end lead to scoring chances for Oakville, who eventually cashed in to make it 1-0 halfway through the 1st. A few minutes later, as an Oakville player went hard to the net, an LJK defensemen tried to make a play on the puck. As the LJK player tried to push the Oakville forward away from the net, the Oakville forward barreled into the LJK goalie, scoring the 2nd goal of the game and injuring White’s goalie, who had to leave the game. This lit a fire under the LJK side, who was already playing for 3 injured comrades. White quickly scored two goals and headed to the 1st intermission tied 2-2. Oakville started the 2nd out strong, scoring a power play and even strength goal in the first10 minutes. But a 4-2 deficit seemed like a mole hill to this Bantam White team as they had faced constant adversity throughout the weekend. Nearly 1 minute after the 4th Oakville goal, Bantam White scored on a breakaway to make it 4-3. And after an Oakville hit from behind that forced a 5th(!!!) White player out of the tournament, Bantam White tied it up to go to the final intermission tied 4-4.
The 3rd period was dominated by Bantam White, outshooting Oakville 12-2, but the Rangers netminder was up to the challenge, sending this game to a 4 on 4 overtime.
The OT started at a frantic pace, with good scoring chances by both teams. After the White goalie made an incredible kick save that kept the game alive, Bantam White went the other way on a 2 on 1. As the LJK forward sped down the leftwing, he was hooked off the puck, drawing a crucial power play for the LJK side.
After some strong puck movement, Bantam White capitalized on a loose puck in front of the net, ending the game and putting the bow on a legendary performance by an undermanned team in one of the premier AA tournaments against some of the strongest competition in the province!!!