Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
The Napanee Stars rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to defeat the Kanata Blazers and win the Northumberland Regional Silver Stick hockey tournament’s U11 ‘A’ division on Sunday afternoon in Cobourg.
They qualified for the International Silver Stick Finals in Sarnia January 14 to 16.
Falling behind 3-1 less than a minute into that final frame, Napanee coach David Allore called a timeout and challenged his players.
“We had some kids that were pretty upset and some tears here and there. I said ‘there’s 14 minutes left, do you guys want to pack it in or do something about it?” Allore said the game. “They really seemed to respond to that.”
Maddux Hartwick answered back just 22 seconds later with first of two in the period.
“You could see we believed again that we could win this game,” Allore said, noting goaltender Clayton Manion later made a big save which kept the Stars within a goal. “We were really happy as a coaching staff because you see your kids get down and you wonder ‘are they going to pull it together, do they have some fight in them’ and they showed us they had some fight so real excited by that.”
Napanee fell behind early in the contest with Kanata scoring at the 56-second mark of the first, but Keegan Wilde tied it up with a goal assisted by Benjamin Babcock.
Kanata tallied the lone goal of the second period before taking the 3-1 lead early in the third.
Hartwick’s second goal of the game with 6:43 remaining evened the score at three apiece. Chase Castagnier drew the only assist on both of Hartwick’s goals.
Noah Raycroft scored the go-ahead goal, which stood up as the winner, for the Stars with 4:34 remaining in regulation time.
Napanee went undefeated in four games at the Silver Stick qualifier with wins of 6-1 over the North Durham Warriors on Friday and 6-1 over the Northumberland Nighthawks and 5-0 over Kanata on Saturday.
“We played really well all three games, decisive wins, and then we had a challenge today for sure. I was really proud of the kids,” Allore said. “Kanata really showed today that they wanted it as well so our kids had to dig down a little bit deeper, it wasn’t going to be easy for them so I think that’s a big character moment for our team and hopefully we can take that further into our league.”
Napanee’s U11 Stars are off to a 7-2 start in their regular season play, losing a pair of games to the undefeated Campbellford Colts.
This weekend’s tournament win was an opportunity for the Stars to face some adversity and play some unfamiliar opponents.
“We always talk to them about how they’re a good team, but to try and play with consistency through all three periods,” Allore said. “I really thought our team came together this weekend. It was our first tournament. Some of these kids haven’t played in tournaments in two years because of COVID. They were excited, some nerves, but then they put it together and we came out victorious so we couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”
Members of the Napanee U11 Stars are goaltenders Clayton Manion and Cole Osborne as well as Casey Allore, Benjamin Babcock, Caleb Baker, Chase Castagnier, John Dorey, Matthew Dowling, Brock Gunter, Maddux Hartwick, Cooper Plumley, Noah Raycroft, Grayson Rowe, Keegan Wilde and Bryson Wilson.
They will compete at the Bell Capital Cup in Ottawa at the end of December before heading to the International Silver Stick Finals.
“These guys are fired up for that,” Allore said.