2 weeks ago the U15 Bandits set their sights high as
they entered the ORHL league championship. They went into their division as the
team to beat. They were in for a tough weekend with all the competition in the
Game 1 saw the U15 team taking on the #2 seed, Carlisle Chill! Right from the puck drop the boys had the momentum and kept it up all game! Ryden Bomberry stole the spotlight as he started the weekend off with a 4-point game; a hat trick with an assist and Cohen Russell followed with 5 assists! The Bandits kept burying the biscuit as goals scored by Steven Reidy, Ryker Powless, Cash, and Anthony “Tony” Nocita with assists going to Jayce Zasucha, Nick Price and Powless for his second point of the game. Omar Kay played a solid game getting the win between the pipes as the Bandits went on to win their first game 7 – 2.
Game 2 of the day saw the Bandits take on the London Raiders. This was not the Bandits finest moment of the tournament. With only 1.5 hr break from their big win vs the Chill the tired crew look to better their day trying to beat the Raiders. Despite a great game by Ethan Kett in goal holding the Raiders to 1 goal the Bandits could only manage to beat their goalie 1 time playing to a 1 – 1 draw! The lone goal scored by Bomberry with an assist by Russell. Even with the tie, the Bandits found themselves on top of a 3 way tie for first after the 1st day of play!
Game 3 on a new day saw a rejuvenated Bandits take on the #3 seed, Royal City Kings (white) team. The Bandits struck early in the 1st with Bomberry scoring (his first of 2 on the game) early, unassisted, and the Bandits never looked backed. They played together and as a team giving Kay the easy shutout in a 4 – 0 win. Kay was there to shut the door at any chance the Kings tried on him! Nocita scored a pair with Nick Price and Reidy both getting assists. Despite having 1 more round robin game, this win ensured the Bandits ticket to the finals the next day! Now it was a waiting game to see who finished where!
A win in Game 4 meant the Bandits would finish 1st in the division, while a loss would be a wait and see who they would play and who would end up as the Home team! It was slow start for the Bandits playing the 4th seeded Royal City Kings (red) team in the final game of the round robin. The Kings jumped out to a 1 – 0 lead halfway through the first. That would be all that keeper Kett would allow the Kings to get! Despite a slow start, the Bandits tied it up late in the 1st with defencemen Bowen Esselment scoring his first of 2 in the game! Esselment scoring his second of the game at the halfway mark of the second would prove to be the game winner. The Bandits would go on to score 2 more to solidify an undefeated round robin with a 4 – 1 win. Powless and Avery Heaslip each potting a goal with Price, Zasucha, and Connor Matheson getting assists!
Game 5, gold medal match game would see the home team favorites take on the Royal City Kings (white) team. Would the Bandits stay undefeated and win the final game of the season? The Kings with revenge on their mind and in their hearts, made for a great matchup as the previous season record between these 2 teams was 1-1-1! It was anybody’s game! The Kings with some pep in their stride struck first scoring halfway through the first! Kay with the nod in goal said no more and shut the Kings down the rest of the way giving his team the best chance possible for the W! Bomberry scoring and Powless with the assist towards the end of the first tied it up for the Bandits. The Bandits picked up their game in the second scoring early on a goal from Cash with assists going to Bamberry and Powless to take the lead. From that point on the Bandits did not give the Kings much a chance to get back in the game and the little chance they did have, Kay was stellar as always to preserve the win and the championship!
The efforts and contributions of the players who may not have appeared on the scoresheet this weekend also deserve recognition. Grady Bosnjak, Logan Fitzpatrick, Spencer Luke, and Cole Staley; it is the little things you did each shift, whether it be winning the forecheck, backchecking, clearing the front of the net, pressuring the other team into making mistakes, your efforts and selflessness made all the difference in the world and were just as much part of our team success. We did not make the finals without the contributions of every member on this team.
The season didn’t start off so great with the question of “could this team compete?” I saw the talent and knew with hard work, determination, and teamwork this team could compete. Thanks to the parents, and mostly the kids! They never gave up and bought into the system! In almost 30 years of coaching kids in sports, it was 1 of the best, and not just because of the outcome (which was awesome to see them win it) but to watch these guys come together as a TEAM! To see all the friendships formed, to listen to the locker room banter, to see the comradery in the room. To hear that parent had to drive great distances for sleepovers, as we are all spread out over Brant County and surrounding areas, and all the praise from parents to hear their son has had one of the most fun seasons in long time. It was tough during the lockdown and all the restrictions, but you all managed these struggles well and made it work! Thank you all for your dedication and participation and contribution to a great year!
Last but not least, Thanks to You Can Play for your generous sponsorship! Its great to have such a sponsor that believes in what you do! everyone has a right to play!