By: Scott Ludwig
In a thrilling conclusion to the first-ever Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League season the Almonte Sharpshooters claimed the championship with a 4-3 overtime victory over Muskoka Wild.
A journey that began in September for the new eight-team outfit, the CPJHL went through many bumps and bruises during their inaugural campaign. At the end of the regular season two teams had stood apart from the rest; Almonte and Muskoka. With a two-week playoff to crown a champion the top two ended up meeting in the end in the championship game.
The Sharpshooters got off to a quick start when Jack Shaver scored just 1:34 into the game. A power play goal from Aaron Gregoire later in the opening frame had Almonte in front 2-0. That is where the teams stood at first intermission.
The second period was dominated by Muskoka, outshooting Almonte 18-7. But it was the Sharpshooters who scored the only goal of the period when Samuel Hudon scored at 11:26. Almonte led at the second break 3-0.
Another furious period by the Wild followed in the third and this time the shots found the back of the net. Brady Bannon scored first to get Muskoka on the board at 16:07. A power play tally from Ethan Nudd cut the Sharpshooters advantage to 3-2 with 7:06 remaining before the Wild found the equalizer with just 1:17 to play. Nathan Delarosbil scored to tie it, but Muskoka was not done pouring pressure on the Sharpshooters in the final minute. Shots in the third ended with a 19-9 Muskoka advantage.
Overtime began with all the momentum on the Wild side. But it took just one Almonte shot to end it when a loose puck forced the Wild goaltender out of his crease. His poke check of the puck was successful, but the defense could not clear the zone. The puck ended on the stick of Thomas Leggett at the blue line who then ripped a shot past the recovering goaltender for the dramatic game winner.
Final shot totals were: Muskoka 52, Almonte 32.
Three Stars of the Game
Thomas Leggett – 1 goal
Nathan Delarosbil – 1 goal, 2 assists
Jean-Marc Brisson – 49 saves; 3 goals against
Stay up to date with the team in the off season on the Muskoka Wild Facebook and Twitter pages.
Photos by: Dorothy Duck