The MBRP Major Midget Otters came in second place in the annual Muskoka Parry Sound Championship last weekend, losing a heartbreaker in the final game of the tournament to the South Muskoka Bears, who they will face in the first round of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association Playoffs beginning this Friday.
The Midgets took on a familiar foe in the Highland Storm in the first game of the tournament, making for the third time these teams have already played in 2016. The Otters struck first midway through the opening period with a goal from team captain Cody Jones, with the Storm answering towards the end of the frame to tie the game 1-1. The second period was all Otters, as Huntsville scored three times with goals from Connor White, Cody Parent and Jacob Schnurr to take a commanding lead. Once again, the Storm would battle back in the third, finding the back of the net twice to make it a 4-3 game before Otters goaltender Camden Conner shut the door and Jones added some insurance to take it by a final score of 5-3.
In their second game, this time against the Bears, it was Parent getting the Otters on the board just over halfway into the first before Jones doubled the lead a minute later on a shorthanded breakaway. The dominance continued into the second period, where Schnurr and Jones noted back-to-back markers to push the lead to 4-0 until the Bears finally found some life to close out the frame down 4-2. Jones completed his hat trick in the third, finishing on a feed from Connor White while Parent added an extra score for good measure in the 6-2 blowout. Netminder Scott Perry was solid between the pipes in the victory, which assured the Otters a berth in the tournament final.
Unfortunately for the Midgets, however, the team began to lose steam heading into game three as fatigue and mental lapses took over against the Parry Sound Shamrocks. Struggling to find the back of the net, the Otters had difficulty getting much going on defence as well, coming up short in a 4-0 defeat that represented one of just a handful of times the team has been shut out this season.
The bad puck luck carried over into the final, where the Otters had a rematch with the Bears only to see the visiting team get on the board first despite their best efforts to control the play. Adam Lavinge tied things up halfway through the frame for Huntsville, but it was a short-lived celebration as the Bears lumbered right back to retake the lead moments later off a botched Huntsville clearing attempt. Not to be outdone in the offensive period, Schnurr found Evan Dickson at the point with the clock winding down for the game-tying goal moments before the intermission.
The start of the second saw continued Otters struggles as the team fought to get the bounces going their way. The Shamrocks scored two quick goals to start the period and never looked back, although Schnurr had a chance to build some momentum for his team after converting a feed from Jones to cut the deficit to one. It would be as close as the Otters would come, as both teams traded goals en route to the eventual 6-4 final.
In other hockey news, Huntsville’s Armstrong Dodge Midget AE and Canusa Bantam Rep teams both capped off impressive tournaments of their own, as both groups earned the distinction of being named MPS Champions in their respective divisions.
The Midget AE team rallied together after dropping their opening game to Almaguin to rattle off three consecutive victories, including beating Almaguin in a highly anticipated rematch in the tournament finals, while the Bantam Reps had an easier path to gold, going undefeated through three games to secure the MPS trophy.
Congratulations boys and best of luck in the playoffs!