Main photo: The Northern Upfitters Bantam Rep Otters are Muskoka-Parry Sound champions (back from left) Derek Punchard, Hunter Crawford, Nik Sands, Shaun Vaillancourt, Rhett MacFarlane, Aidan Macmillan, Lucas Sallmen, Jesse Gardiner, Nick Ehl, Scott MacInally; (middle from left) Kaidyn Crowder, Jack MacInally, Braxton Bullen, Landen Cool, Damon Buttus, Blake Punchard, Caleb Carr, Charlie Keyes, Rylan Holman; and (lying in front) Sam Thrale. Absent from photo: Greg Macmillan. (Michelle Gardiner)
It’s the time of year when your local Huntsville Minor Hockey Association (HMHA) Otters teams compete for the title of MPS (Muskoka Parry Sound) champions! Both the Bantam Rep and Midget AE Otters had strong runs for their respective titles.
Northern Upfitters Bantam Rep Otters
The MPS playoffs for the Bantam teams were hosted by the Highland Storm in Haliburton on January 10-12.
The Otters took their first game with a hard fought 3-1 win over the Parry Sound Shamrocks.
In game two, the Bantam Otters rallied for a second win against the Bracebridge Storm, with the winning goal scored in the final two minutes.
The Otters took a solid win in game three, besting the Haliburton Storm by a score of 5-1.
Their three-game sweep landed the Otters in first place, guaranteeing a spot in the championship game against the Parry Sound Shamrocks. The first period ended with the score tied at two. In the second, the Bantam Rep Otters pulled away from their opponents, scoring four more goals to bring the score to 6-3. In the third period, the Otters continued their strong team work to end the game with a whopping 8-4 win.
“The team continued their strong play at MPS. A well balanced, undefeated tournament win. The boys are peaking at the right time for OMHA playoffs,” said coach Scott MacInally.
“A great weekend for the Huntsville Otters and momentum which they hope to carry on to the OMHA play downs, in hope of bringing Huntsville another red hat,” said team manager Michelle Gardiner.
Armstrong Dodge Midget AE Otters
Huntsville played host to the MPS championships for the Midget divisions last weekend at the Canada Summit Centre.
On Friday night, the Armstrong Dodge Midget AE Otters began the Division B tournament as they met the South Muskoka Bears and took their first loss, 0-3.
“The team lacked their normal effort despite a solid performance in net by Riley Holford. Wyatt Schurer, Dryden Williams, Danny Downing, and Clayton Digiacomo led the penalty kill unit as the team struggled with penalties,” said trainer Ethan MacKay.
“After Friday night’s loss we had to let the team know that they could play better than that and they all agreed that they could,” said coach Brandon Janke. “On Saturday and Sunday they responded to us [the coaching staff] and showed us what they are capable of.”
Game two against the Almaguin Ice Devils ended in a win of 2-0 for the Otters.
“Nathan Decaro scored the first goal with a shot from the point in the second period assisted by Riley Digiacomo. Matt Clark scored the second goal unassisted on an empty net from our own end late in the third period,” said MacKay.
The Midgets played against North Bay Trappers for game three, where the Otters ended the game with another shut out and a 3-0 win. Matt Clark logged one goal along with two from Jesse Taylor with an assist coming from Alex Tone-Reid and Danny Downing who assisted on all three goals.
The Otters’ two wins were enough for first place and a berth in the MPS championship game against Almaguin.
In each period, both teams exhibited the same drive for the win. After 45 minutes of full-out play, neither team had scored and the game went to a three-on-three, sudden death overtime period. Shot after shot was saved by both goalies, the defense was quick, and the forwards skated hard, but with less than two minutes remaining, Almaguin snuck a goal past the Otters netminder to take the championship title.
The weekend had many highlights including the very close final game. The team’s successes and near-title would not have been possible without goalie Aaron Maddock who played three-plus games of impeccable shutout hockey. Helping him out on defense were Tyler MacKinnon, Kalvin Crozier, Riley Digiacomo, Nathan Decaro and Ty Zanetti who helped shutdown the other teams’ offense. Additionally, the team’s willingness to work hard and compete was led and set by Andrew Duke and Alex Ascott who both worked extremely hard all weekend in the offensive and defensive zones.
Coach Janke thought the weekend was a great success despite the overtime loss in the finals. “Everyone was putting in their best effort and understood what role they have on this team. We are proud of their performance this weekend and they should be, too”
MacKay added, “Watching everyone come out and play like they did on Saturday and Sunday after losing on Friday was amazing! We hope that the team realizes that if they want to, they can beat any of the teams we play. We think that we can go far into OMHA playdowns and we hope they think they can too.”
The OMHA playdowns start this week for the Armstrong Dodge Midget AE Otters when they meet the South Muskoka Bears.
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