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Thursday, April 18, 2024
March Break Classic: U9 Wolves find positives in gold medal loss to powerhouse team from Soo
Members of the NOTL U9 local league team worked hard in Sunday's March Break Classic gold medal game against a strong team from Sault Ste. Marie, said coach Gary Friesen. The Soo prevailed 11-0. Dave Van de Laar

Richard Wright
Niagara Now/The Lake Report

Coming off a 3-1 record in preliminary play but running up against a powerhouse squad from Sault Ste. Marie in Sunday’s final of the March Break Classic at Meridian Credit Union Arena, the Niagara-on-the-Lake U9 LL Wolves settled for the silver medal on home ice following an 11-0 loss.

The Wolves entered the tournament final with wins over Lawfield, West London and Beverley Township.

Their only round robin defeat was also against the Soo, who finished with an impressive 5-0 record that featured 62 goals-for and only two against. 

“I thought we played hard,” said NOTL coach Gary Friesen, giving credit where credit is due to the Soo.

“Even just getting a shot on goal is an accomplishment against that team. I told the boys: ‘Let’s just play hard and don’t worry about the scoreboard. Let’s get some shots on net and try to limit them.’ And we almost got a couple. These kids all worked really, really hard.”

Soo coach Marco Bernabucci was gracious in victory, noting that his team has had its struggles throughout the year, but has somehow found that extra gear during tournament play.

“We’ve got some great hockey (in the Soo),” he said. “But believe it or not, our regular season hasn’t been as successful. We went 2-2 in our first tournament and kind of lost out in the semifinals.”

“Then our second tournament, this weekend, going 5-0 and winning the championship was great. But in our regular season play we are 1-8. It’s really competitive. There are four really good teams where we are from.”

Wolves dig deep to advance

NOTL’s earlier play over the weekend featured a beauty semifinal contest Saturday against Beverley Township where the Wolves came away with a 4-1 decision that took until the final seconds before the home team felt safe.

“(Saturday’s) game was one of the most exciting games I have ever coached,” said Friesen.

Goalie Nathan Muir had a great game in that one, making some point-blank saves and giving his team the chance to win and advance to Sunday’s final.

Austin Cwiertniewski, George Petrakis and Brock Friesen, who had two — one with just two seconds left in the game — had the NOTL goals.

 

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