On January 10, 2020, Coach T.J. O’Neil and his McDougall Energy Marlies traveled to Bradford Ontario to participate to the Bradford Blue & Gold tournament. In a very large division of 10 teams from all over Northern, Eastern and Southern Ontario, they faced a tough task of making it to Sunday’s playoff games.
Game 1 against a very strong North London Nationals team saw the team trailing 3-2 in the second period before Landon Pelchat tied it with a laser from the point to tie it right before the break. This ignited the group as they responded with 4 unanswered goals in the third to take the game 7-3. Scoring for the Marlies: Mac Fenchak, Ryan Dufour (2), Pelchat, Carter McClelland, Jaron Elie & Cameron Knox.
Game 2 versus the tournament host Bradford Bulldogs, the Marlies went down 1-0 early, but stormed back to take a 5-1 lead by the end of the second a the way to a 7-2 final. Scorers included Wayne Jones-Reid, McClelland, Knox, Jake Chiarello, Dufour, Jordan Blackbird & Pelchat. Kristiana Aubertin added 2 assists.
With four teams at 2-0 and two teams 1-1, McDougall’s still needed a win in their final game to guarantee a place in the semi-finals. Once again, a strong third period was the deciding factor as the Marlies skated to a 6-2 victory, led by McClelland’s hat trick. Other goal scorers included Kale McLean, Elie and Knox. Mason Dechamplain chipped in with two assists. With the victory, the team finished in 3rd place in the division and secured a playoff spot.
After an all-night freezing rain storm and a morning blizzard and a very early 8 a.m. start at an arena 45 minutes away from the hotel, the Marlie caravan set of to Beeton Ontario down an unplowed 400 freeway then onto untouched country roads and finally arriving at an cold, old arena for a semi-final against the undefeated Kincardine Kinucks. After a scoreless first period, McClelland & Elie scored to give Sault team a 2-0 advantage. A costly penalty with 1:30 to go allowed the Kinucks to score their first and then tie the game with 43 seconds to go and their goalie pulled to force overtime. Beginning with 4 players per side for three minutes, neither team could capitalize. Next 3-3, and with 28 seconds to go A.J. Coccimiglio passed the puck to Dufour, whose shot was saved, but he raced for the rebound and buried it to become the overtime hero!
On to the finals to face the top ranked Kitchener Majors, who had only allowed one goal all tournament. The game began with both teams battling hard and both goalies making great saves. A the mid-way point of the first, Chiarello passed the puck to Liam Trainor, who passed it over to Joel Shea, who let go one of his patented point shots that found the bottom left corner. 1-0 Marlies and they didn’t quit there. They continued with three goals in the second (Dufour 2, Elie) and three more in the third (McClelland, Elie, Coccimiglio). Only a fluky redirection robbed our outstanding goaltender of her shutout as the game finished 7-1. Gabi DeMarco finished the tournament with a 5-0 record and a tremendous save percentage.
The coaching staff is so proud of this team and want to give a big thank you to all the parents, grandparents, siblings and friends who were on hand to support these young boys and girls. These are the memories that they will cherish forever!