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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Atom Majors Win Buffalo River Classic

submitted to EFP

This past weekend, the Atom Major Ravens travelled the snow swept highways to Buffalo, New York to participate in the Buffalo River Classic. The team faced competition that consisted of American “AA” teams, and played all the games on outdoor rinks.

The first two round robin games were held on Friday. The Ravens dominated both winning by scores of 10-0 and 9-0. The first game witnessed a strong two-goal performance by Jaclyn Weston, a two-point game by Ethan O’Neil, as well as Mason Ginter scoring the goal to lead in the Ginter household. Game two highlights had Caleb Cavanagh scoring the natural hat trick, Denver Boismier scoring two, and Sean Wilson going top shelf on a breakaway. 

The third game of round robin was not until 5:00pm on Saturday, so, with several hours off, the team was ready to go against the Lakeland Hawks. Essex would open the scoring, with only 30 seconds in, on an unselfish feed by Braeden Cavanagh to Caleb Gailitis. The opening surge by Essex wouldn’t stall, as the Hawks began to dominate the play in the Essex end. The Ravens came close on several chances, however, the majority of the play was in the Essex end for extended periods of time. Reed Vandervecht stood on his head to turn the Hawks away on numerous occasions to keep the slim 1-0 lead. An Essex breakaway was stopped late in the third period, only to have the Hawks come back on a rush and even the score with 15 seconds left. Final score 1-1. 

The Ravens secured its spot in the finals against the very same Lakeland Hawks. With an early 7:00am start, on an outdoor rink in Buffalo, the scene was set for a classic final!

Perhaps accounting for the early start, the Ravens came out sluggish in the first period, and Lakeland dominated the play. Trevor Paquette turned away every shot in the first period, to keep the Ravens in the game, despite being dominated early on. The Hawks continued holding the puck in the Ravens zone in the second period. The defensive crew of Cade Smith, Gavin Hebert, Jesse Chadwick, Cole Grant, and Ben Fuerth threw every last ounce of energy they had in the game, doing whatever it took to prevent scoring chances. With 5 minutes left in the second, Owen Sadler went end-to-end and sniped one past the Hawk goalie, to give the Ravens a 1-0 lead in a very tight game. The back-and-forth play continued into the third period, with both teams working hard to find a goal. Late in the third period, the Hawk’s pulled its goalie and mounted a strong attack to find the equalizer, however the Ravens stood strong and scored two empty net goals to make it a final score of 3-0. Ravens are champs!

Essex outscored its opponents 23-1 in the tournament and improved its tournament record this season with two championships, one runner up, and one fifth place. Reed VanderVecht and Trevor Paquette shared the co-MVP honours of the tournament, giving up just one goal in four games. 

Special thanks to injured player Noah Martin for encouraging the team from the bench. The Ravens now turn their attention to Bluewater league play.

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