Silver at The Rock And Roll Cup for Essex Atom Major Ravens

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submitted to EFP

The Essex Ravens Atom Major hockey team made its way to Ohio over the Thanksgiving weekend to compete in the Rock and Roll Cup, in Cleveland.

Essex was the only Canadian, and a single A centre team, out of eight in its AA division, and prepared for a difficult schedule.

The Round Robin format pitted them first against the North Pittsburgh Wildcats. North Pittsburgh scored first, but the Ravens players were relentless and netted two goals through their hard work, and took the lead, 2-1. In dramatic fashion, the penalties piled up as the game neared it’s end, but the defensive heroics of the Ravens team limited the Wildcats chances, securing a 2-1 win in the first game.

Early on Saturday, the Ravens faced the Winterhurst Warriors. Essex jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period with strong skating and puck play. They controlled the action from end-to-end. However, Winterhurst did not give up, scoring two goals, in the second period, to tie the game. The two teams traded goals early in the third, until the resiliency of the Ravens proved too much for the Warriors. With the help of a controversial goal and an empty netter, Essex won the game by a score of 6-3.

Riding on a wave of confidence, the Essex Ravens jumped out to a two goal lead early in game three against the Hamburg Hawks. The Ravens added goal after goal, while shutting down the Hawk offence. Essex was happy to roll into the semifinals with an 8-0 win and the top spot in the B division.

The playoff game matched the Ravens against the second place team in the A division, the Oakland Grizzlies. The teams were evenly matched.

The Grizzlies scored first, only to be answered by the boys in orange. Oakland scored a second time, but again Essex evened the score. In the third period, the Grizzlies climbed ahead on the scoreboard, 4-2. With time quickly ticking by, the Essex Ravens tried rush after rush, only to be thwarted by a skate, stick or goalie pad. As the clock neared the two minute mark, a win looked nearly impossible for the Ravens. The fans could only cheer on the team and hope for a miracle comeback. A whistle stopped the clock with 2:14 remaining and the referee called a penalty against the Grizzlies, giving the Ravens a chance to bring the game one goal closer.

Essex dug deep, won the face-off, and sent the puck deep into Oakland’s end. The Raven’s goalie bolted for the bench as a sixth attacker hit the ice. Within seconds, a scramble for the puck in front of the Grizzlies’ goalie gave Essex its third goal of the game and 1 minute 47 seconds remaining on the clock.

With another face off win, the Ravens drove deep into the Oakland end, pulled the goalie and sent the sixth attacker out on the ice. Playing 6 on 5, the Ravens shot puck after puck to the net while the Grizzlies fought frantically to clear the zone. The sound from the stands shook the arena with an Essex goal to tie the game 4 to 4, with 1:15 remaining.

The teams finished out the period tied and moved onto a four on four, five minute overtime. Neither team gave much room, but the momentum stayed with the Essex Ravens. The overtime would not decide the game. It was down to a shoot out. In the third and final round the Raven’s goaltender maintained his composure, flashing the leather of his catching glove, knocking a shot out of the air for the save to allow for the final Essex shooter to tuck the puck into the net. Essex won 6-5 and headed to the finals.

On Sunday afternoon, the Atom Majors hit the ice for the final game of the tournament. They started the game out strong, but could not break through the defence of the top team from the A division. The Reston Raiders entered the finals with out a loss or a single goal scored against.

Play was carried back and forth throughout the first period, with only Reston scoring. The troubles continued for Essex in the second period with the Raiders adding a third goal. Try as they might, Essex could not seem to gain enough momentum to get the puck into the net. A fourth goal into an empty net late in the third sealed the fate of the Ravens.

The coaches and fans could not be more proud of the Atom Major team for finishing as finalists, taking home silver in the Rock and Roll Cup. The hard work and sportsmanship was a fine example of what Essex hockey has to offer. Each and every player showed grit and determination, skating hard to the final whistle, regardless of the final score.

Congratulation Essex Raven Atom Majors.