Midget Canadians tops in Niagara Falls
Having just returned to town Monday afternoon after watching the Fort Frances Midget ‘AA’ Canadians capture the Niagara Falls Championship Cup Midget 17U title a day earlier, it was easy for head coach Dave Egan to describe his team’s accomplishment.
“It was an absolutely great way to finish off the season,” he enthused.
The Canadians captured the title with a 3-2 shootout win over the Niagara Jr. Eagles, with forward Abe Germain finding the back of the net to give his team the victory.
“Abe’s been with us for the last three years, and anybody who knows Abe could not be happier for him,” Egan remarked.
“Plus, he’s $13,000 richer after he won the 50/50 draw on Saturday afternoon at the Buffalo Sabres’ [game], which was a pretty interesting experience for everybody,” added Egan.
“He’s been saving up for school for quite a while now and that is really going to help him out with that.”
Cameron Gobeil and Brody McPherson notched early goals to put the Canadians up 2-0, but the host Jr. Eagles fought back to tie the score.
With the rest of regulation time and an extra period not solving anything, the teams went to a shootout, where McPherson and Malcolm King both hit the twine to set the stage for Germain’s game-winner.
“Our boys were focused from the time that they woke up Sunday morning, and we could all tell that they wanted it badly,” Egan recalled.
“As soon as they went on the ice, they were focused the entire time and they worked for everything that they got.
“On the bench, all of the coaches had a feeling that the boys were going to do it,” he added.
The Canadians had opened the tournament Friday morning with a 4-2 loss to the Jr. Eagles, then played to a 1-1 tie against the Niagara County Coyotes on Saturday morning to finish in second place in their pool.
“I thought that both teams were pretty much even in their game on Friday, and it really could have gone either way,” Egan noted.
“As the weekend went on, the guys were getting right back into the way that they were playing all winter long and it showed in the latter games.
“The level of play from the opponents was similar to what we have seen in our regular tournaments in Minnesota over the winter, and we had to fight to get to where we wanted to be,” he stressed.
In the semi-finals Saturday night, the Canadians turned in a very strong performance in a 6-3 win over the Camillus Cougars, which earned them a rematch with the Jr. Eagles in the final.
“It’s not often that you have a chance to face a team that you lost to earlier in the tournament for a second time, but we were able to have that opportunity,” Egan said.
“Everything just came together for us on Saturday night, and I think one of the things that helped us out with that was with our conditioning,” he added.
“That is something we have been working on all winter, and they [the Cougars] weren’t able to keep up with our boys in third period in the semis.”
While Germain’s performance was one of the most memorable of the weekend, Egan was quick to laud the play of another forward that made an impact not just in Niagara Falls, but over the entire season.
“Ian Friesen has been a real unsung hero for us,” he noted. “He goes hard every shift for us, and generally when he is out there, something usually happens that leads to us getting a goal.
“He’s a very quiet leader out there,” Egan added.
With the Niagara Falls tournament marking the end of competitive action for the Midget Canadians this season, Egan already is looking forward to next year, especially with the possibility of having a large number of players return.
“We have about 13 boys that can come back, so we are going to wait and see as to where they want to play next season,” he explained.
“I’m hoping that with what happened this weekend, that will help them to decide if they want to come back and play again.”
The final wrap-up event for the Canadians will be their annual team banquet, but an official date and time for that still is being determined.