DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The Port Perry Predators Minor Atom ‘AA’ team continued their strong campaign recently, as they captured the 2015-16 Stratford International Silver Stick Regional Championship.
After splitting the round robin portion of the tournament with a 1-1-1 record, Port Perry defeated the Caledon Hawks 5-4 in sudden death overtime to advance to the championship game.
This would set-up a rematch between the Port Perry Predators and the Dundas Blues in the tournament Finals. In the round robin portion, the Blues, another ‘A’ centre competing at the ‘AA’ level, scored a 7-2 victory. The Predators were determined to avenge the loss in the championship match, as the players noted in an interview with The Standard after being honoured by the Port Perry MoJacks in a special ceremony on Jan. 4.
“We felt like we had a bad game the first time we played, and we knew we were better than that. Before the finals, we said that this one is our game and we weren’t going to lose twice to the same team,” Nathan Stapleton said.
Nolan Laird added that the team was focused on a single goal in the Finals.
“No one was going home with that trophy except us, and we got back to playing our usual type of game with everyone working really hard and supporting each other” he said.
The Predators came out determined and would score a short-handed goal with just 27 seconds left in the first period to take a 1-0 lead.
Dundas would respond less than two minutes into the second period to tie the game at 1-1. But, the Predators would counter by scoring a power-play goal with one second left in the second period.
Less than four minutes into the third period the Predators took a 3-1 lead at before the Blues scored late to cut the lead to one. However, the Predators showed great determination down the stretch to fend off the Blues and hang on for a 3-2 victory to capture the championship.
“We played a lot better as the tournament went on, and after a slow start we’re playing a lot better lately, especially on defence. And, that showed when we were able to hold them off to win the championship,” goalie CJ Tonna explained.
The Predators will now square off against the top teams from across North America at the International Finals in Newmarket from Feb. 14 to 17.
“This will be great to play against tough teams right before the playoffs. We know that if we play smart, we can win against anybody,” Noah Smith added.
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