By Andrew Seymour
Mother nature proved to be the enemy of the 33rd annual Hull Kiwanis Midget Hockey Tournament.
The tournament, which ran from Jan. 6-11, suffered numerous disruptions as a result of the massive ice storm that pounded the Ottawa and Outaouais region. Sticks and equipment for two of the 36 teams competing in the tournament failed to arrive on time, and some games needed to be rescheduled because of power failures. One team had to forfeit its first game of the tournament because it couldn’t get to Ottawa on time.
Tournament President Marco Daigle said the biggest issue of the tournament was the lack of fans who were kept away by the storm.
“We’re down with the spectators,” Daigle said. “A lot of people are preoccupied with things other than hockey right now.”
Daigle said only 18,000 people attended the six-day tournament, a much lower total than the 33,000 expected.
The situation didn’t improve much on the final day of the tournament. Only 2,500 fans attended the Triple-A championship game at Robert Guertin arena in Hull. Half of the crowd left when the lights out early in the second period of a game between the Detroit Little Caesars and the Saskatoon Contacts. After 10 minutes of complete darkness, partial power was restored, but it took another 45 minutes for the game to resume.
Fans patient enough to wait out the delay were treated to an exciting game and a spectacular finish. The Detroit Little Caesars, who trailed 1-0 at the time of the blackout, were able to regroup and win in dramatic fashion. Matt Gossett scored the winner with three seconds left, giving Detroit a 4-3 win.
The goal was sweet revenge for Gossett. Earlier in the period, he gave the puck away to Saskatoon’s captain and the tournament’s most valuable player, Ryan Bayda, who scored the Contacts’ third goal.
Detroit coach Chris Coury credited the win to hard work and determination. He also said the power outage gave his team a chance to regroup and play a better game.
“The momentum started to swing,” Coury said. “The guys were a little mad at themselves because they weren’t playing the way they knew they could.”
The Little Caesars also got a strong performance from goalie Scott Hamilton, who stopped 29 shots.
In the Double-A final, the Seigneurs des Milles-Iles, Quebec defeated the Nova Scotia South Shore Mustangs 5-0. The Seigneurs took control of the game in the second period, scoring four times, including three goals within a two-minute span early in the period. Winger Alain Brassard led the team with a goal and two assists while goalie Yannick Bourgeois made 15 saves for the shut-out.
“I didn’t think it would be that easy to score five goals on them,” said Seigneurs assistant coach Jean Theobald. “They’re a good defensive team and we’re happy with how many went in.”
South Shore’s Cory Ernst was named the most valuable player for the Double-A portion of the tournament.
Ottawa was represented by the Double-A Ottawa Ice. The Ice struggled, finishing with no wins, two losses and a tie.