By Peter Leyser
The Ottawa Centre Atom B Ice Dogs took to the ice at the Bell Sensplex in Kanata the first weekend of December for the Holiday House League Tournament. The team, consisting of players from the Glebe, Centretown, and Old Ottawa South, was one of sixteen teams vying for the coveted hockey championship. The Ice Dogs were undefeated in their regular league play and were placed in a very competitive division with three other teams that also hadn’t lost a game in their respective league games.
The Ice Dogs opened the round-robin portion of the tournament on Friday with a solid 3:1 victory against Leitrim, followed by a 3:0 win over a very good team from Vaudreuil-Dorion. The Ice Dogs came up against a strong team from Durham on Saturday and fell 4:2. The 2:1 round robin record combined with a good goals-for/goals-against ratio was enough to secure a wild-card spot for the team in the Sunday playoff elimination round with five other teams.
As fate would have it, the Ice Dogs faced Durham again in the first game of the playoffs on Sunday morning, the quarterfinal match. The players focused on their own game, demonstrating tremendous resilience facing a team that had beaten them the previous afternoon and came out on top 2:1. Their motto: being the hardest working team on the ice.
The team faced another team from Leitrim in the semi-finals and deservedly managed a relatively easy 3:1 victory. It was on to the finals.
The championship game matched two Bytown Minor Hockey League opponents who had not faced each other yet this season, the West End Wolverines B7 team versus the Ice Dogs. Strong goaltending from both sides was on full display in the final. The Wolverines grabbed a 1:0 lead midway through the second period and they held that lead despite the Ice Dogs carrying the play and out-shooting them. After a late third-period time-out, the Ice Dogs tied the score with a minute and thirty six seconds left in the period, sending the game into overtime.
In the stands, what started as a considerable number of parents, family and friends watching the championship game soon became a much larger audience as fans from the other three ice pads at the Sensplex filled the rink to catch the incredible drama that was unfolding. Three minutes of heart-pounding four-on-four overtime, followed by three minutes of nerve-wracking three-on-three overtime solved nothing. It was on to the dreaded shootout.
Each coach was asked to submit three players to participate in the shootout. Remarkably, after the six shooters went, the teams were still tied as each team scored on two of their three attempts. With the tension reaching a crescendo, it was on to sudden death shootout, one round at a time. No player who had already participated in the shootout could take another turn until all players on their team had an opportunity do so. Neither team scored on their fourth or fifth attempts; however, the Ice Dogs, mercifully, on their sixth attempt scored while the Wolverines did not. Officially it was a 2:1 final.
The Ice Dog players poured over the bench, jumping and piling on the goalie in sheer jubilation. The Ice Dogs were champions after six games over two and a half days.
Players from both teams were awarded a medal for their incredible efforts. The Ice Dogs took home the championship trophy and banner, both to be proudly displayed at Brewer Arena.
Congratulations to the champions, the Ottawa Centre Atom B1 Ice Dogs:
# 1 Gus Boldt (goalie)
# 2 Iyden McNair
# 3 Clay Covert
# 5 Lachlan Cartwright-Wall
# 7 Victor Galezowski
# 8 Leo Seguin
# 10 Julian Knopp
# 11 Jamie Chernoff
# 12 Amit Weinberg
# 14 Rowan Fader
# 15 Owen Meagher
# 16 Justin Leyser
# 17 Caleb Lamarche
Peter Leyser is the extremely proud coach of the Ottawa Centre Atom B1 Ice Dogs.