Cyclones sweep Simcoe in three straight to win All-Ontario title at home
BY DAN MCNEE
LISTOWEL – Fifty wins. Four tournament victories. One All-Ontario championship.
Combine these impressive accomplishments and you’ve got 14 happy hockey players. And this was more than evident by the toothy grins on display at Listowel Memorial Arena Sunday afternoon, following the Listowel atom rep Cyclones’ three-game sweep of the Simcoe Warriors for the Ontario Minor Hockey Association ‘B’ championship.
“I’m very proud of them,” said head coach Jason Brooks following his team’s 2-1 victory in Game 3. “It was a hard series, it was a tough series, it was a close series.
“That’s a very good hockey team we played against.”
Listowel centre Carter Servais kept up his torrid playoff scoring pace by making it 1-0 Cyclones in the first period of the decisive game.
The tight-checking contest remained that way until late in the second, when it appeared Simcoe tied things up on a rebound in the slot.
A shot made it through netminder Josh Jacklin but appeared to hit the post and stay out, as the nearby referee quickly waved it off.
Owen Schouten ultimately scored the game winner on a high wrist shot from the point that made it through everyone and over the shoulder of Simcoe netminder Sihler Baldock with just over 11 minutes remaining in the third. Ben Nauta picked up the lone assist.
“Everybody had a contribution in the end and I think that’s what made this team special,” said Brooks.
The Warriors’ Mason Kowalsky managed to get one back with the net empty and 43 seconds left on the clock, but the Cyclones were able to hold off the Simcoe attack the rest of the way.
“You get into that last minute and they get that goal, and you’re just thinking to yourself, you guys have worked so hard and now you have 40 seconds to battle for a championship,” said Brooks. “Our guys found a way.”
Listowel put themselves in an opportunity to sweep Simcoe on home ice by winning Games 1 and 2 by a pair of 3-1 scores.
On the road for Game 2 on Saturday in Simcoe, the Cyclones used a stellar goaltending performance by Jacklin as support en route to taking a 2-0 stranglehold in the series.
“We knew they were going to have a big push in their home building,” said Brooks. “We just wanted to go up there and play a simple, solid game. We capitalized on a few mistakes that they made, and we got great goaltending from Josh Jacklin. He was outstanding in Simcoe and he was outstanding again today.”
Brooks said that it was great to win a championship for the first time alongside his father, team trainer Jim Brooks. The Atom Rep bench boss also utilized the skills of his close friends Brett Nichol and Robert Jackson as assistant coaches, and father-in-law Murray Beirnes as manager. Brad Buchanan served as the team’s executive liaison.
“To have that opportunity to do it with them was special,” said Brooks.
A former OHL head coach, Brooks conducted practices with his team often in the same manner as he did with his junior squads, something the Atom Reps quickly adapted and bought in to from the beginning of the season.
“This was a team in which we were going to try to and be a family,” explained Brooks. “We’re going to go through some growing pains and we’re going to get yelled at. But why are we yelling? It’s to make us better. Ultimately, they bought in and they played great hockey all year.
“To have a season with 50 wins in atom is a pretty darn special year.”