(ESSEX, ON) – Championship seasons start in the crease. A diligent goal tending tandem can mean the world to any team trying to obtain a trophy.
Daniel Piccolo and Connor Chamney were the difference makers for the Riverside Rangers Atom A squad during the Ontario Hockey Federation championship rounds in Essex on the weekend. Sunday evening, in front of friends, family, and numerous onlookers, the Rangers defeated the host Essex Ravens 2-1, to add the OHF title to their Bluewater Championship and OMHA Crown.
The opening stanza was scoreless, as Piccolo and Raven’s tender Bryson Doherty traded show-stopping saves to keep the game knotted. In the second, Essex’s Luke Ward broke the ice, slapping the puck top shelf to take the lead.
Early in the third, both teams fell into penalty troubles. With each team short a man, Ranger Brendan Pitre smacked in a long shot, on the odd-man rush, past Doherty’s blocker. As time ticked down, the game remained knotted at 1 but, with just over a minute left, Matthew Babineau knocked in an errant puck, giving Riverside a late lead.
The Ravens would pull their goalie but to no avail, as the Rangers skated away with the OHF honours.
Both goaltenders made 23 saves in the effort and each were awarded their team’s player of the game.
Essex’s Kohen Fuerth took the tournament scoring title.
The Rangers organization last won the OHF Atom A title in 2005.
In the semi-finals, Riverside took on the Vaughn Panthers of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. Chamney stopped 9 attempts from the Panthers, as the Rangers prevailed 4-2. They were led by a pair from Christian Morneau.
Luca Zupanic and Angelo Figliomeni added singles in the victory.
The Ravens won their semi-final 7-4, over the Temiskaming Shores Puckhounds of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association. Scoring for Essex was Ward with two markers, Fuerth, Konner McDermott, Cameron Derksen, Jacob Ranni, and Charlie Paquette with individual tallies. Doherty faced 18 shots in the win.
The host Ravens finished their round robin undefeated to earn the top seed in the semi-finals. Essex met Riverside in their tournament opener, shocking them 3-1.
The Ravens went on winning, dropping Temiskaming Shores 9-4 on Friday night, then beat both the Alliance’s Brantford 99ers and Vaughn by 5-3 scores, on Saturday.
After dropping the opening game, the Rangers never looked back, winning their next three games and taking second in the preliminary. Riverside beat Brantford 7-1, the Panthers 5-1, and the Puckhounds 7-3.
It was a long playoff season for the Rangers. Finishing first in the Bluewater League, they met Amherstburg in the opening round, sweeping them aside. Riverside took on Essex in the final, but after three close games, the Rangers were off to the OMHA play-downs.
Riverside came close to running the table in the zone play-downs, only losing and tying once in 11 games. The Rangers swept Welland, beat Burlington 3-1, and never lost to Barrie in their 4-game series to claim the Jack Bell Trophy and earn a berth into the OHFs.