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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex PeeWee Minors - Same game, different style, gold again

submitted to EFP

Only one week after winning the Essex Early Bird tournament, the Essex PeeWee Minors took its game south west to the town of South Bend, Indiana, at the University of Notre Dame, September 21st to 23rd, to compete in the Irish South Bend Cup.

The only Canadian team, out of the four division competitors, the boys had to adapt quickly to the subtle rule changes and physical play of their American counterparts.

To open the tournament, Essex faced off against the Mt. Clemens Wolves. Both teams battled back and forth across the ice surface, but the strong skating of the Ravens players helped them prevail. By the final minute, Essex held a comfortable cushion and went on to win the game, 3-1.

The Rockford Roadrunners took advantage of the limited calls of the referees and elevated its physical game to a higher level during the second game. Although the Ravens players were often stymied, deep in the Rockford end, they easily led in time of possession over their opponent. However, no matter how well Essex moved the puck down the ice, the wall of Roadrunner defence held strong and Essex wound up on the wrong side of a 2-0 game with the loss.

The 1-and-1 Essex Ravens faced a must win situation in order to advance to the championship game. The Irish Rovers, the tournaments local entry, tried to play the spoiler to the PeeWee Minor’s weekend, but Essex did not give them a chance.

The loss earlier in the day brought out another level of competition in the Ravens. Passes were sharper, shots were harder, and skating was quicker. The Ravens Brand of hockey overwhelmed the Rovers players, setting them back on their heels from early on in the game. Essex went on to win the game, 5 - 1.

The 2-1 tournament record paired Essex up against the undefeated Rockford team for the second time, for the championship game.

Sunday morning found not only one Essex team vying for a championship, but two. The Atom Majors took the ice in the preceding hour and the PeeWee Minors and their parents took to the stands for support. All weekend the two teams cheered each other on during games and spent time together off ice. One big Ravens Family. Congratulations goes out to the Majors for their Silver Medal finish.

Although the Rockford Roadrunners was a physical team in the first meeting, the Essex boys were not intimidated. They were confident that they could again outplay their opponent, this time earning the win. From the drop of the puck, the game was all Essex. The Roadrunners looked as if they were chasing the play, often a step behind. Unlike the first meeting, the referees made sure it was a clean game and Rockford soon found player-after-player seated in the penalty box. With the extra space and freedom to skate, Essex began to fill the net.

Defensively, the Ravens gave up few opportunities, which the goaltender was ready for. Offensively, Essex turned up the heat. Goal-after-goal found the mesh as the Essex Ravens steamrolled to an impressive 7 - 0 victory.

The coaches and parents continue to be impressed with how deep the team can dig to overcome challenges and how hard they compete in tough games. Two gold medals in two tournament weekends, to open the season, makes one wonder what these boys can accomplish when they stick together as a team.

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