Leo Boivin Showcase: Prescott Wrap Up
By: Matt Anthony – U18 Head Coach Newbridge Academy Varsity Hockey.
There are some very special hockey towns across this great country of ours. This past weekend, the U18 Varsity team was lucky enough to get a first hand look at one of these towns: Prescott, Ontario. The small, humble town, approximately 90 minutes from Ottawa is home to the Leo Boivin Showcase, one of the longest running Midget AAA tournaments in Canada. This year marked the 45th edition of the tournament, which is named after hockey hall of famer Leo Boivin. The team enjoyed 5 days of top notch hockey and first class hospitality, as well as a very unique atmosphere, and were ultimately able continue a strong season with a tournament championship.
The team departed from the East Hants Sportsplex early Wednesday morning and arrived in Prescott at 10:00pm. One of the traditions of the tournament has teams travelling from away billet with local families; all of these families were waiting anxiously at the rink and welcomed all the boys. After getting acquainted with their living arrangements, and a good night’s sleep, the players had a full day of events on Thursday. The day began with a visit to Hunter’s Sugar Shack for breakfast, followed by a morning skate. The players then went to two different local elementary schools to volunteer their time by visiting classrooms and playgrounds for the afternoon. After leaving the schools, the team enjoyed a great pre-game meal at the Red George before heading to the arena for an exhibition matchup with the host South Grenville Rangers. After falling behind 1-0 early, the boys found their stride, skating to a 9-2 victory. Goal scorers were: Olivier Gauthier (2), Alberto Pison (2), Cameron Patton, Hughie McHugh, Mathieu Blanchard, Christophe Bohemier, and Alexandre Provost-Ross, while Colby Loveless got the win between the pipes. After the game, the boys were once again exposed to the local hospitality as they enjoyed a spaghetti dinner with their opponents.
The tournament is set up as a 16 team bracket-style, so in order to win the tournament you must win every game. The first round matchup saw the Newbridge boys playing Ontario Hockey Academy. The team gave up a goal two minutes into the game; it would be the last time they trailed all tournament. The offence came roaring back led by Chase Ellis with a hat trick, while the other goal scorers were Gauthier and Pison. Thomson Phinney was solid between the pipes. After the win, the team had the rest of the day off, which was spent with billet families and exploring the town of Prescott while also taking in some of the other game action.
Saturday morning was a tough one, as Newbridge found themselves up against the defending Telus Cup National Midget Champion North York Rangers of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. It was a hard skating, high skill affair that fans really enjoyed. Backed some some stellar goaltending by Phinney, the U18’s were able to earn the hard fought 3-1 victory. Goal scorers were Gauthier with two and Patton with a single. With the win, the boys continued to gain support from the local community, including THE ROW.
Saturday night, the boys found themselves in the semi final game against the Kingston Jr Frontenac’s of the Eastern AAA Hockey League. Despite the fact that the game did not start until almost 11:00pm it was another quick paced, hard hitting, high skill affair. Gauthier scored two early on and from there Phinney and the defence held the fort for the remainder of the game as they came away with a 2-1 victory and a berth in the Leo Boivin championship game.
With the championship game not scheduled until 7:00pm, the players had some more time to spend with their billets and to check out some more top notch hockey. However, when the time came, the boys returned their focus on what they came to do: win a championship. In the final, they were set to face the 2015 Leo Boivin Champion Mississauga Reps of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. Newbridge was able to draw first blood as Hughie McHugh fired one home early on the power play. Soon thereafter, Olivier Gauthier was able to keep his hot streak in tact by adding another marker, and the boys were able to take a 2-0 lead into the second intermission thanks to some more stellar play from goaltender Thomson Phinney. During the intermission, players remained on the bench to watch “The Final Flood”, another Prescott tradition that sees members of the community put on a dinner theatre on ice to commemorate the end of the hockey season. This year’s production was based around NHL greats that had formerly been participants in the tournament.
Once the third period began, the players’ focus was turned back to the game. They were able to play another very strong period, backed by some more great goaltending and two more goals from Gauthier to ride to the 4-0 victory. The strong Newbridge fanbase (billets, school children, other locals) were very loud and congratulatory on the victory. Following a brief celebration, tournament organizing committee handed out the tournament awards, with Newbridge coming away with some hardware:
- Thomson Phinney – Top/All Star goalie of the tournament (4-0, 1.00GAA, 1 Shutout)
- Matt Duggan – Heart Trophy for showing the most dedication on and off the ice
- Olivier Gauthier – All Star Forward, top scorer (8G, 1A), and tournament MVP
After some time spent celebrating on the ice with teammates, families, and billet families, the boys were treated to one final speech. Once they returned to the dressing room, they were greeted by the host South Grenville Rangers coaching staff. They were very humbling in their praise for not only the boys’ play on the ice, but also for their attitudes off of it. It truly was one of the kindest acts of sportsmanship that could have been given; they were genuinely extremely happy for our players and staff for earning the right to be called Leo Boivin Champions.
After the celebrations ended, the boys retuned to their billets for one final night before hitting the road at 7:00am Monday morning. Overall, the tournament was everything expected plus so much more. Everyone in the town of Prescott did a great job putting on the tournament, and players from all teams did a fantastic job representing their organizations. A big congratulations to the U18 players for beating some top-end competition and winning such a prestigious tournament!
“In all of my years as both a player and a coach, I’ve never experienced anything like the Leo. I want to extend a HUGE thank you to the entire organizing committee, the billet families, the South Grenville coaching staff, and the entire community of Prescott for making our experience so fantastic. Secondly, I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that our players put forth this weekend. Each and every one of them worked their tail off and beat some really good competition en route to becoming champions; I’m extremely proud of them.”