Capitals and Leafs pull through

Hockey has been creating quite a buzz of late in Cayman.

With the NHL playoffs wrapping up last week and locals caught up in the action sports bars have seen lots of big crowds.

YOUTH HOCKEY LEAFS

The Leafs fought their way to the title. Photo: Matthew Yates

The local hockey scene has been just as frantic as the youth hockey playoffs have been ongoing.

Kings Sports Centre has seen its fair share of curious onlookers and enthusiastic parents watching kids play their heart out in the WestTel Arena for the WestTel Youth Hockey program.

Two youth hockey leagues recently wrapped up and crowned a pair of surprising winners.

The 9U division would see the LOM Capitals take home glory with a convincing 4-1 win over heavy favourites the XN Financial Rangers.

Kai Robinson, Ethan Hersant and Matt Somerville were the heroes for the Capitals as they kept the powerful Rangers to just one goal. Daniel Champoux and Ethan Finlanson had a point each for the Rangers.

Coming into the final last Monday both squads took different paths through the season. The Capitals, unlike their NHL counterparts, played the role of the underdog.

The Caps finished the season in third place at 5-4. The team was a bit of an oddity statistically. Though they scored the second most goals with 40 they allowed the second most with 45 goals.

However the squad would heat up in the playoffs. In the opening round they took down the UBS Panthers 8-4. The Panthers had only two losses during the regular season due to the play of budding stars David Pitcairn and Jered Holmes.

The Caps played physical and out-worked the Panthers along the boards and in front of the net. In addition players Max Schipperheijn and Joe Allom would step up on the score-sheet.

On the other hand the Rangers needed nerves of steel to hold off a furious rally from the KPMG Senators to get past them 4-3 in the opening round.

The Senators came into the year as the three-time defending champions. The squad struggled this year but squeezed into the playoffs at the expense of the Animal House Penguins.

Known for their striking ability to rally, KPMG came back in the match and missed a chance to force overtime on a wicked shot from Ryan Lloyd.

The 12U division would see a huge upset of its own as the Five Continent Leafs won the title game against the Vampt Oilers 8-4.

The Leafs put away the Oilers with stand-out performances from their goal scorers. 12U playoffs MVP Nicole Whittaker (one) opened up the scoring before Cameron Bridgeman (two), Michael Matthews (two) and Chris Messer (who scored the game’s final three goals) added to the tally.

Though he allowed four goals Five-Continent goalie Dylan Bostock never crumbled to the attacking pressure from the Oilers and earned finals MVP.

The Leafs fought hard to make it to the final. Five-Continent finished in second place in the regular season with a 4-3 mark and squeezed by the Conyers Canucks 6-5 in the opening round of the playoffs.

Vampt finished the regular season in first place at 6-2 but barely made it to the final. The squad needed a penalty shoot-out to get by the erratic Appleby Sharks 4-4.

DHL Sales Executive Patrick Bourque (who is involved in a number of sporting activities such as kickball) coached the Leafs this season. A full-blown hockey fan from Canada, Bourque took up the coaching reigns of a team that has consistently been a contender in the wide-open 12U division.

Bourque felt his team did what it had to do to win in the final.

‘Well, our team wasn’t first on the scoreboard and the Oilers held the lead a few different times early on. But the kids managed to respond well and came back to tie a few times and eventually take the lead for good.

‘Although our game plan was simple, it requires a lot of hard work, patience and discipline and these kids definitely showed those qualities for a full 45 min.’

With the 12U trophy bearing the Leafs name for the next few months Bourque was quick to say the season worked out well.

‘I think the season went exactly how a coach would want it to go. All the kids were very committed to the game. They worked hard in practice and applied what we learned in game situations; we learned from our mistakes and built on the positives in our game.

‘We saw improvement in every game the kids played as a team and as individual players.

‘As for the playoffs, we knew that even though we finished second to the Oilers it was still anyone’s chance to win.

‘Each team is competitive in this league and we almost saw a few upsets in the semis. This helped us to stay focused and do what we needed to do.’

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