Major midget Rebels top UCMHL
The UCMHL’s top regularseason team in the major midget rep. ‘B’ division, the Char-Lan Rebels, found itself in a tough battle in the championship series with the third-ranked boys from North Dundas.
Trailing four-points-to-none in the five-point battle, the Rebels rallied with three straight wins, to score the title banner, punctuated by a 5-0 exclamation point in the March 27 series finale.
Goaltender Kamden Sabourin was at the top of his game in the mesh mansion, while his teammates were tenacious on offence and defence, playing in front of a packed, raucous house at the Char- Lan Rec. Centre, in Williamstown.
Four minutes into the contest, Ethan MacDonald began the romp, finishing off a scoring play set up by Roan MacLennan.
Puck possession was fairly even into the second period, when Alexxi Paquette rang one off the iron, swinging momentum in favour of Char-Lan, as the boys peppered Demons net boss Liam Antille.
After Sabourin stoned a Demons breakaway opportunity, the Rebs’ aces took flight at the other end of the ice.
Andrew Dixon, Colby Carriere, and Paquette found the target in quick succession, with assists credited to Nathaniel Faubert, Findlay Hope, MacLennan, and Lachlan McDonell.
The 18-minute third period was chippy at times, as North Dundas
frustrations, at seeing the series slip away, boiled over.
The icing on the cake for Char-Lan was Dixon’s power-play goal off a stretch pass from Kurt Alexander.
At the buzzer, celebration ensued, as the Rebels shed their equipment, tossing it in the air, congratulated each other, and saluted their fans.
Players were called up individually to receive medals, before the UCMHL pennant was presented to Char-Lan, and the team posed for photos.
Alexander, one of the veteran players on the squad, reflected, “We knew we had a skilled team since tryouts. All year it was a matter of how much we wanted it. We really showed we did when we came back after being down 2 games to 0, and [going on to take game five] in a 5-0 win. It was a great year for all of us, and I’m glad I could [be part of a championship-winning team in] my last year of minor hockey.”
One of the younger players, MacLennan, commented, “Ya, it was awesome being one of the rookies on the team, learning lots. It doesn’t happen very often where you get to win everything and our names will be on the banner in the rink for life.” And it almost didn’t happen. Despite a regular season that saw the Rebels win 25 of 28 games, it was North Dundas, a team that finished 15 points behind Char-Lan, that took games one and two of the championship series, 5-4 and 3-2, to push the boys to the brink.
On home ice March 22, the Rebs rallied with a 6-1 effort to get back into the battle.
Dixon led the offence with four goals, the others notched by Paquette and Faubert. Earning apples were McDonell (2), Josh Vandrish (2), Jack MacLennan (2), Alexander, Seamus O’Connell, and Cale McKenzie.
Three days later, the series switched to Winchester, where again the Rebs faced elimination.
This one was a see-saw battle, with Dixon opening the scoring in the first period, assisted by Hope and McDonell.
The Demons drew even in the second stanza, before Alexander restored the advantage, from Dixon and Faubert.
Later in the frame, North Dundas once more tied it up, at 2-2.
In the third, Char-Lan iced victory when Paquette set up McDonell with 11 minutes remaining.
The 3-2 win knotted the series at four points, forcing the deciding game five.
Following the finale in Williamstown, it was announced that the 50/50 draw collected $246.50, which was donated to the Julie MacLachlan Foundation.
CHAMPS: The Char-Lan boys celebrate their UCMHL championship. Standing in the back row, from left, are coach D’Arcy O’Connell, trainer Jason MacDonald, Josh Vandrish, Lachlan McDonell, Findley Hope, Kurt Alexander, Jack Corput, Jack Cayer, Aidan Leroux, Cale McKenzie, and assistant coach Wally MacDonald. Middle row: Nathaniel Faubert, Ethan MacDonald, Andrew Dixon, and Seamus O’Connell. In front are Kamden Sabourin, Roan MacLennan, Alexxi Paquette, Jack MacLachlan, Colby Carriere, and Merek Clement. Absent from image: assistant coach Matt McKenzie.
UNDER PRESSURE: Char-Lan goaltender Kamden Sabourin makes back-to-back third-period stops, as North Dundas presses its attack. The Rebels netminder backstopped his team to a 5-0 shut-out victory over the Demons, in game 5 of the UCMHL championship series.