The Chiefs completed a four-game sweep of the Essex 73's with a 6-2 win Sunday to capture the OHA Schmalz Cup junior C championship.
The victory at the Essex Centre Sports Complex came on the heels of a 4-3 overtime win in Essex on Saturday. It's the Chiefs third Schmalz Cup title and first since 2000. They also won in 1987 and are a perfect 3-0 in trips to the OHA final.
“This just unbelievable,’’ said head coach Tim McCormick as the champions headed home. “I always told the guys that championships are hard to come by and to cherish the moment. Everyone is so excited. It was our goal from the beginning of the season to go all the way and we did it. There is a sense of achievement. It is huge. The players bought in and they were committed, dedicated and determined.’’
After a 35-4-1 regular season to finish atop the OHA Central Jr. C loop, the Chiefs went 20-4 through five playoff rounds including finishing the playoffs on a 10-game winning streak. They beat Picton, Stoney Creek and Essex outside of their league on their way to the crown.
Two playoff games went into overtime, Game 7 in Picton and Saturday’s affair in Essex and McCormick said that said a lot about his club.
“They played like they wanted it more and there was never panic in the tough games,’’ he said. “They worked hard. There was no one person either. They were all leaders and different players came through. We were well balanced. Hats off to all the kids.’’
Jim Carson, director of hockey operations, said it was special for all the players.
“A lot never won an Ontario championship,’’ he said. “It was great for the overage guys and new players. It was exciting for them as well as Lakefield and the fans. We had a lot down here.’’
The Chiefs led the deciding game 2-1 after the first period, 4-2 after two and outscored Essex 2-0 in the third period. They were two-for-seven on the power play while shutting out Essex on 11 man-advantages.
Eric Oosting's goal six seconds into the second period proved to be the winner. Derek Manley scored twice and added an assist, Jordan Walsh, Saturday's overtime hero, and Bryce Sweeting had a goal and assist. William Sullivan also scored. Devin Gilbert had two assists with singles to Ryan Anderson, Ryan Saunders, Nathan Larson and Travis Brault. Zack Wainman made 33 saves for the win while 73's goalie Darien Ekblad was pulled after four goals on 18 shots. Jacob Kment stopped 20 of 22 shots. Phil Janikowski and Aaron Thibert scored for Essex.
On Saturday, Walsh's second goal came 4:07 into overtime with Manley picking up one of his three assists. Saunders and Brault also scored with Larson assisting. Michael Popel, Scott Bromley, who forced overtime with 3:23 left in the third period, and Janikowski scored for Essex. Wainman got the win as the Chiefs outshot Essex 39-31.
Carson said there would a parade but details weren’t finalized as yet.