MONCTON, N.B. – The Central Attack showed a lot of perseverance and commitment, head coach Jeff Squires said as him team celebrated the Monctonian bantam AAA championship Sunday in Moncton.
“They were relentless,” he said of his players. “They had a goal and they just stayed focused. It was tough sledding here today, tough sledding last night, and they just stayed very, very focused on what they set out to do, so (it was a) tremendous accomplishment.”
Cam Squires one-timed a backdoor pass from Kal White for the game-winning goal 3:22 into triple overtime as the Attack defeated the Rangers from East Hants, N.S., 2-1. The goal came after White and Colby Huggan had applied the pressure on a hard forecheck and won the battle for the puck.
“Our guys are exhausted here,” Squires said just outside the dressing room.
“Jack Howatt in the net, our goaltender, was phenomenal,” he said, noting he earned a shutout in the semifinal and allowed one goal in six periods in the championship game. “Quite an accomplishment for Jack.”
Alex Carr from Kieran Rennie scored late in the first period to give the Rangers the lead, but Huggan converted a Squires pass five minutes into the third for the equalizer. Isaac Vos had the other assist for Central.
Squires said the message during the second intermission was about the opportunity they had with 20 minutes to tie the game on championship Sunday.
“We were not discouraged at all,” he said. “We were very focused and didn't want to let the opportunity slip away.”
The action was back and forth throughout the third and overtime with each team having their chances to pot the winner.
“The momentum shifted two or three times,” Squires said. “The overtimes were definitely a rollercoaster.”
The tournament is the one of the two most heavily scouted tournaments in Atlantic Canada.
“We turned a lot of heads here this weekend,” Squires said.
It was not immediately known how long it had been since a Prince Edward Island bantam team won the Monctonian, but the Charlottetown Abbies did win the title in 1999.
The Attack is a deep squad with good balance between 2004 and 2005 players. Many have been together for years and have won a handful of provincials and attended Atlantics each year they were eligible.
“This just didn't start this season,” Squires said. “It should be something they, and their parents, (are) very proud of.”
The Attack went 2-0-1 in the preliminary round, defeated the Port City Sharks 6-3 in the quarter-final and the pre-tournament favourites, The Gulls from St. Margarets Bay, N.S., 4-0 in Saturday’s semifinal.