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Essex Ravens Atom Major Early Bird Champs



submitted to EFP

This past weekend, the Essex Ravens Atom Major team participated in the 41st Annual Early Bird hockey tournament in Essex.  Coming off a successful exhibition season the kids were ready to play some games that mattered.

Opening the tournament on Thursday evening, against Tecumseh, the Ravens started slowly but end up carrying the game to win by a final score of 6-2.  On Friday, the Ravens faced off against another local AA centre in Lasalle.  This time, the Ravens came out strong, netted two goals in the first period on the way to a solid 4-1 victory.

The team played two games on Saturday, knowing a win in both would be an advance to the semi-finals on Sunday.

The opening game versus Dundas was a lopsided affair with the Ravens coasting to a 10-1 victory.  Later that day, the team traveled to the WFCU Centre to battle the team from Halton Hills. The Ravens came out slow and jittery, perhaps attributed to playing in the big bowl, where the Spitfires play.  After going down 1-0 after the first period, the Ravens owned the second period, scoring three times.  Adding two more in the third period secured a 5-1 victory and a berth in the semi-finals.

  The Ravens battled a familiar foe in Erie North Shore in the semi-finals on Sunday morning. The kids were ready to go in this one, knowing these games are always tight, and this would be no different.  A scoreless first period had both teams battle hard with end-to-end action, but no goals on the board.  This changed three minutes into the second period, when Caleb Cavanagh went hard for the puck, in the corner, to slide a beautiful pass to Sean Wilson, in the slot, to bury the first goal past the Erie net-minder.  The teams continued to battle through the second, and well into the third period before the next goal of the game was scored.  A strong forecheck by Sean Wilson resulted in a steal of the puck and a pass to Caleb Cavanagh to pot the second goal for Essex.  Trevor Paquette earned the shutout in this one, turning away numerous Erie scoring chances, for a final score, 2-0 Essex.  On to the finals!

  In the finals the Ravens faced its third local AA centre in the tournament, going up against Belle River.  The kids were liked caged animals in the dressing room before the game. They knew it was go time.  Essex jumped out to an early lead on a sweet saucer pass from Owen Sadler to Jaclyn Weston in the high slot.  Later in the first frame, Ben Fuerth unleashed a blast from the point, to sail one past the Belle River goalie, to put Essex up 2-0.  With less than a minute left in the opening period, Sean Wilson, once again, showed unyielding hustle in the opposing team end, as he stole the puck from the defender and circle out front to score and put Essex up 3-0.  Early in the third period, Sean Wilson scored on a breakaway and Ravens’ goalie, Reed VanderVecht, kept Belle River from scoring to earn the shutout (the second of the day for Essex).  The final score was 4-0 for Essex – Champions!

  The Ravens finished the tournament as champions amassing a 6-0 record while outscoring its opponents 31-5 in those six games.

Next on the tournament schedule, the team travels to South Bend Indiana to participate in the Irish South Bend Cup.  Good luck and great job!

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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