Tigers settle for silver at NSSAF Division II hockey

Community Online First Sports

LANTZ: It wasn’t the outcome the HERH Tigers boys hockey team wanted, but head coach Bud Davies made sure to impress on his troops post-game that they had a great year of Division II hockey.

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That year came to an end in a tough 6-2 setback to the Central Kings Gators in the championship final of the NSSAF Division II boys provincial hockey championship on March 25 before a boisterous, pro-Tigers full house at the East Hants Sportsplex in Lantz.

It culminated a weekend of great high school hockey action, featuring West Kings, Northeast Kings, HERH, and Central Kings.

HERH goalie Brendan O’Neill sprawls to make an amazing pad save off of a Central Kings player in game action on March 24. (Healey photo)

The two teams had a chance to measure each other out in the final round robin game on March 24, a 3-1 win for the Tigers. However, Davies said the coaching staff didn’t take much stock in that.

“We knew they were going to come out strong and hungry and they did,” said Davies. “We were ready. The boys wanted it really bad, but we just didn’t get the bounces.”

A couple of those bounces came with Central ahead 2-1, and a shot was just stopped by the Gators defence while on another, and a wide open top left side of the net, HERH’s Adam Hunt put too much on the shot and it went up and over the net. He looked skyward immediately realizing the miss.

He said post game he told the boys to keep their heads held high as, while the outcome was not what they wanted, they still had a pretty great season.

“They’re very disappointed obviously, but we have a great team and it was still a great year of hockey,” he said. “They represented their school with class and should hold their heads high. They got a silver medal, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

An HERH Tiger and Central Kings player make dinner plans with the linesman during the championship final on March 25 in Lantz. (Healey photo)

The Gators scored three times in the first period to quiet the pro-HERH crowd, and never looked back picking up the 6-2 win.

Spencer Kennie scored twice, while Will Crocker; Colton Balsor; Austin Visser; and Zach Forsythe each had single tallies.

Sean Morrison and Nathan Gates had the Tigers markers. Both were scored on the power-play.

For Gators head coach Michael Ouellette, the final was just another game. At least that’s what he told his troops before they hit the ice against the Tigers.

“We talked a lot about the team that works the hardest being the one that would come out on top,” said Ouellette.

The HERH Tigers celebrate after cutting Central Kings lead to 3-2 late in the second period in the Division II boys provincial hockey championship. The Tigers lost to the Gators 6-2 in the game to grab silver. (Healey photo)

Ouellette said the team’s coaching staff never put the spotlight on it being the provincial final.

“We focused on not making to big of a deal out of this hockey game,” he said. “It’s a hockey game. I didn’t need any one player to step up; we just needed everyone to work hard. That’s exactly what they did.

“I think we can put to much pressure on players at this age. The key was to balance out the pressure by just playing their best. Everyone gave their heart and souls today.”

The game marked the end of an era for two HERH Tigers staff members.

Davies, who coached for the final time behind the bench, and team manager Gerald Doutre who along with family are moving for employment to Ottawa, have hung up their Tigers clipboards for the final time.

In the round-robin portion of play, Owen Weagle made up for taking a bad penalty that allowed the Northeast Kings (NKEC) Titans to even the game, by breaking in to the Titans end and wiring home what would stand as the eventual game winner as HERH defeated NKEC 3-1.

Friday, HERH rallied with eight unanswered goals en route to an 8-2 victory over West Kings.

An HERH Tiger player carries the puck around the net and tries to race to get the wraparound and make it count, but the Central Kings goalie got there just before he could put it across the line during championship final play on March 25 in Lantz. (Healey photo)

Owen Weagle led the charge for the Tigers offensive explosion with a goal and three assists in the contest, which saw HERH score five times in the final stanza.

The other results saw Zachary Forsythe scoring a natural hat-trick as Central Kings broke open a one-goal game for a 6-3 win over West Kings; NKEC Titans edged West Kings 2-1 behind goals from Bryce Dauphinee and Spencer Grantwell.

Central Kings picked up a thrilling double overtime victory over Northeast Kings Titans. Colton Balsor wired home the game winner with 1:04 left.

Nathan Gates fends off a Central Kings player in the final. (Healey photo)