By Josh Howald
How sweep it is.
A surprised looking Mitchell forward took the worst of a collision with Dawson MacDonnell (skating away) along the boards during Game 2 in Ripley. (Josh Howald photo)
Take a hard working novice team, mix in a bus trip, a near capacity crowd and some overtime magic and wind up on a firetruck.
The Ripley novices completed a three-game sweep on the weekend to win the WOAA Jacobi Division playoff championship. But it was far from a cakewalk. Two of the three games needed to be settled with overtime.
"I'd say they earned everything they got," said coach Blair Pollock. "They worked their tails off."
Friday night in Game 1, Quinn Martyn scored once in regulation time, and then again in overtime to give the Wolf Cubs a 1-0 series edge coming home.
Game 2 was played in front of a noisy, near capacity crowd at the Ripley-Huron Community Centre on Saturday afternoon. The teams didn’t disappoint the crowd, providing some entertaining, tight checking hockey.
Following a scoreless opening period, Peyton Howald gave Ripley a 1-0 lead when he scored from Seth Harper and Jeremy Pope.
The game remained 1-0, thanks to strong goaltending in both nets. Ripley’s Kaleb Meyer and Mitchell’s Austin Weir were both terrific, making numerous big stops to keep this game close. It was still 1-0 when the third period began, and Mitchell was pressing the Wolf Cubs.
But a loose puck squirted to Harper, who made no mistake making this a 2-0 game. Mitchell pulled Weir for an extra attacker in the final minutes, but could never really get the puck set up in the Ripley end. The Wolf Cubs played smart along the boards, and eventually the puck came to Howald. He basically skated the puck into the net to make it 3-1 with his second goal of the game. Only 19 seconds remained at that point, and Ripley hung on for a 3-1 win and a 2-0 series lead.
The team boarded a bus on Sunday and headed for Mitchell with hopes of wrapping up this series and winning a championship. Game 3 was even tighter than Game 2, and this one was decided in overtime. Noah Lotton was the hero of the day when he scored in the extra period to lift Ripley to a 4-3 win and a league championship.
Pope and Howald each had three point performances. Pope scored twice and set up Howald, while Howald had a goal and assisted on both of Pope’s markers. Harper also had an assist on one of Howald goals.\
The team returned to Ripley victorious at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, where fire chief Doug Martyn was waiting to take the players out for a victory tour, much to the delight of the players - and coaching staff.
"I think all of us (myself included) were pretty jacked up for a lap around the village in the fire truck," said Pollock.