BY DAN MCNEE
LISTOWEL – There’s no question that the Listowel atom rep Cyclones have had a season for the books, and the team now only has one more hurdle to complete before they are named All-Ontario champions.
The Atom Reps completed their sweep of the Highland Storm on Friday night in Minden, and will now meet the Simcoe Warriors in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association finals. The Cyclones have familiarity with Simcoe, having played them in two tournaments during the 2013-14 season.
“I think the Simcoe series will be an outstanding series,” said Listowel head coach Jason Brooks. “Having played them two times – winning once early in the Schomberg tournament 4-3 and then losing to Simcoe at the International Silver Stick, 3-2 – I believe you will get much of the same; two teams that play tight defensively, that compete extremely hard and that won’t give up too many chances.
“They are a pretty solid team from top to bottom and they have solid goaltending.”
Listowel beat Highland 5-2 in Game 3 to win the semifinal matchup six points to none and advance to the finals. Prior to that, the Atom Reps beat the Penetang Flames in the quarter-finals, also via a three-game sweep.
“I think both Penetang and Highland gave us different challenges and both were quality teams to have faced to move on,” said Brooks. “I feel that our league really helped to prepare us for this opportunity. Playing the likes of Mitchell, Kincardine and Minto to name a few of the teams from our WOAA league, these teams are excellent teams, and because we had to face such quality opponents all year to get to this point, has definitely helped us.”
Listowel has had the advantage of some big home crowds throughout the 2014 playoffs, and both Brooks and his team are hoping that the trend continues into the finals.
“The fan support has been terrific at our home games throughout the playoffs, and I am hoping that we can continue to fill the Memorial Arena against Simcoe,” he said. “It is a great experience for the players to get to play in front of a packed house.”
BANTAM REPS LOSE
GAME 5 HEARTBREAKER
Listowel nearly had two representatives in the OMHA finals this year, but the Bantam Rep Cyclones fell just short in their semifinal versus Highland.
Having split the first two games of the series in Listowel, the Bantams traveled north with the Atom Reps on the weekend. The Bantam Reps lost Game 3 by a score of 5-3 on Friday night in Minden, before rebounding the following day in Haliburton, 6-5.
The decisive Game 5 went Sunday, March 9 back in Minden and Listowel dropped a hard-fought 5-2 decision, eliminating the team from the OMHA playoffs.
The Atom Rep Cyclones will meet the Simcoe Warriors in Game 1 of their first to six points series this Sunday, March 16 at Listowel Memorial Arena. Puck drop is at 3 p.m.