Cru­saders claim cham­pi­onship in SD&G hockey

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

BY SEAN BRAY Sports Ed­i­tor The Char-Lan Cru­saders are once again on top of high school boys hockey, hav­ing suc­cess­fully de­fended their play­off ti­tle.

While, a year ago, the team was ex­pected to win, romp­ing through the sea­son and play­offs, this sea­son was a stiffer test.

The Cru­saders en­tered the Feb. 26 play­off tour­na­ment in Long Sault as the sec­ond seed, on a record of 6 wins, 1 tie, and 1 loss. St. Joseph’s took top spot by a point, while North Dun­das ended up third, by way of a tie-break­ing for­mula, as the Devils were tied in points with Char-Lan.

The Pan­thers pre­vailed in their semi­fi­nal 3-1 over fourth-place la Ci­tadelle, but the real bat­tle was in the other semi be­tween the Cru­saders and Devils.

Af­ter fall­ing be­hind 2-0, Char-Lan bat­tled back to draw even, forc­ing over­time where the Cru­saders won 3-2. An­drew Dixon scored all three goals for Char-Lan.

That set the stage for the ti­tle tilt be­tween the Cru­saders and first-place Pan­thers.

Char-Lan’s Dono­van Fran­cis opened the scor­ing with 5:48 left in the first pe­riod, as­sisted by Jack MacLach­lan and Danny Flaro.

The boys dou­bled their lead early in the sec­ond stanza, off a Nathaniel Faubert marker, set up by Kurt Alexan­der.

St. Joseph’s drew even on back-to-back goals, five min­utes apart, be­fore Cole MacCrim­mon replied, as­sisted by Sea­mus O’Con­nell. How­ever, just 20 sec­onds later, the Pan­thers scored again, to knot the af­fair 3-3.

With 7:24 re­main­ing in the third, Alexan­der put Char-Lan in front for good. Faubert got the as­sist on the play.

A cou­ple of min­utes later, Dixon banged home an in­sur­ance tally, as­sisted by Alexan­der and Faubert.

St. Joe’s got one back in the lat­ter stages, be­fore the Cru­saders iced the vic­tory on O’Con­nell’s empty- net­ter. Ai­dan Ler­oux as­sisted.

Coach Sean O’Far­rell, re­flect­ing on the day, says, “Two hard fought games. Boys played their hearts out. To­tal team ef­fort.”

Alexan­der, a vet­eran of the team, adds, “I thought we played re­ally well and didn’t let up when the games were close. Also, ev­ery­one was re­ally do­ing their part dur­ing both games. We all re­ally wanted the win for the sec­ond year in a row, and it showed to­day.”

On the semi­fi­nal where the Cru­saders fell be­hind early, he stresses, “No one on the team didn’t be­lieve we could make the come­back, and we kept play­ing our game.”

A year ago, Char-Lan beat North Dun­das for the ti­tle. The Pan­thers were ousted in the semis, by the Devils, while the Cru­saders sunk Se­away.

EOSSAA

The EOSSAA boys hockey tour­na­ment was sched­uled to be played yes­ter­day, March 5, in Arn­prior, hosted by St. Joseph’s, the 2018 win­ner that blanked Char-Lan 5-0 in the cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

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