Trevor Hoskin, right, of Team OJHL Hawerchuk battles for the puck with Andrew Morton of Team CCHL Robinson during the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge in Trenton Wednesday. The Cobourg Cougars forward was named MVP of the 10-team tournament. (Photo by Ray MacAloney / OJHL Images)

By Ron Valentine

The Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge wrapped up in Trenton tonight with a dramatic finish.

The Canadian Central Hockey League’s Yzerman team won the title in a shootout over team Hawerchuk from the host Ontario Hockey Junior Hockey League.

Here are the highlights from Day 3 of the 10-team, five-league tournament.

Game 1- OJHL Oates were looking to finish on a high note as they took on NOJHL East who needed a win and a LHJAAAQ St. Louis loss to advance to the semifinals. Leamington’s Sebastian Gatto posted the shutout in the 5-0 final scoreline in favour of the OJHL squad. The win moved the Oates to a .500 record in the Group A round-robin. Collingwood’s Cameron Eke had two goals including an early empty-netter with teammate Jack Rimmer, Pickering’s Ben Pickell and Haliburton’s Ty Petrou rounding out the scoring. 

NOJHL East head coach Peter Goulet: “I’m very proud of this group, they are all quick learners and gave their best as a team. To be in with a chance to advance to the semifinals was a great accomplishment for us, We were here for a reason and enjoyed our time here immensely. We’re proud to be a representative of the NOJHL. It’s very well run and well organized thanks to the leadership of our Commissioner Robert Mazzuca.” 

Game 2 – Five different players scored as the MHL North bested NOJHL West 5-1. The Maritimers built up a 3-0 lead in the first period and cruised from there. 

Opening the scoring was Grand Falls’ Rapids’ Dominic LeBlanc, then Campbellton’s Justin David made it 2-0. Both goals came on the powerplay

Late in the first, West Kent Steamers’ Bennett Kuhnlein upped the ante to three. 

The Steamers are the former South Shore Lumberjacks and are located in Bouctouche NB. Second period goals came from Fredericton’s Sam MacFarlane before the NOJHL team got one back courtesy the Blind River Beavers’ Andrey Manov. Rounding out the scoring was the Red Wings’ Manix Sarrasin. The Rapids’ Adam Lecours stopped 17 shots in the win. 

Game 3 – Blueliner Matthieu Martel of Cegep Beauce-Appalaches Condors potted the game winner for LHJAAAQ St. Louis in a 2-1 decision over MHL South putting the Quebec team into first place in Group A. The two teams traded powerplay goals in the first period with Jean-Raphael Roy, also from the Condors and the Valley Wildcats’ Brendan MacRitchie finding the net. It was a tight game with Alexandre Lauzier (Cote-du-Sud Everest recording 17 saves for the win while the Yarmouth Mariner Thomas Fontaine made 18 stops.

Game 4 – OJHL Hawerchuk were looking to go 4-for-4 in their contest against LHJAAQ Perron and they accomplished that in fine fashion with a 7-2 victory, the biggest goal output of the tournament. Andy Reist (Cobourg) and Ryan Forberg (Markham) had two goals each with singles going to Carson Lloyd (Georgetown), Alex Hebblethwaite (Niagara Falls) and Trevor Hoskin (Cobourg). Mathis Cloutier (Saint-Jerome Pantheres) tallied both goals for the Perrons.

Reist and Hoskin finished atop the round-robin scoring stats with seven points each. Dylan Edwards (Toronto Patriots) had six and Mathis Cloutier, Alex Hebblethwaite and Alexandre Lamarre (Condors) collecting five each.

Hawerchuk coach Vince Bellissimo: “It has been a well-run and enjoyable event. Getting to work with some really good players this week has been fun and we like the way our team has played. The final day was a good challenge. We wanted to make a good run and represent the OJHL in the proper manner.”

The first semifinal featured CCHL Yzerman and LHJAAAQ St. Louis (both 3-1 in the round robin) and two goals, including the game winner, from Remi Gelinas of the Hawkesbury Hawks led his team to a 3-2 victory. Four goals for Gelinas in the tournament. Cornwall’s Brayden Bowen had the other Yzerman score. For St. Louis it was Felix Riverin and Mathis Baril (Granby Inouk). 

Yzerman GM Marty Abrams: “The game was very close. It could have gone either way. We are ready for the final.”

St. Louis’ coach Jonathan Ferland was upbeat: “We are very proud of our players during the tournament, we competed in every game, just going down by that one goal in the semifinal. The players can go home with their heads high because we were one of the top teams and we really made it hard for our opponents with our speed. Thank you to everyone involved in the organization of this event. We had everything we needed from Game 1.”

Semifinal No. 2 had the undefeated OJHL Hawerchuks meeting CCHL Robinson who had  a 3-1 record in the preliminary round. An early goal by Dylan Edwards gave the OJHLers confidence and they would make it 2-0 on a goal by Aurora Tigers’ Ryan Evenhuis. Five minutes into the second session, Ty Whyte made it a one-goal game. Braeden Shaikh was the winning goaltender, making 22 saves.

Robinson coach Ryan Leonard: “The guys battled til the final buzzer. The CCHL teams did our league proud with both making it to the semifinals and one in the finals. We are looking forward to next year. This was a very well run event.”

OJHL Hawerchuk and CCHL Yzerman lined up for the quick turnaround final game in the closely-contested tournament. The Yzerman’s went ahead in the first with a goal from Ottawa Jr. Senator Benjamin Albright. A mere 22 seconds into Period 2, Dylan Edwards netted his fifth goal, tops in the Challenge, to tie it up before Gabriel Crete from the Navan Grads put the CCHL team in front. It took 16 seconds for Trevor Hoskin to even things up and to set up the shootout. It was his third goal of the tournament and his 10th point to lead all players and he was named the MVP of the Challenge. 

In the shootout, eight players failed to connect before Georgetown native Cristobal Tola from the Grads got one past Chris Quizi and that would be the game winner making the Yzerman’s the Cup winners by the 3-2 count.

The coaches from both teams were happy.

Yzerman’s Ian McInnis from the Cornwall Colts: “We took a big chance on our two goalkeepers – Donald Hickey of the Colts and Jaeden Nelson of the Grads – they are both 2007s and they came through for us in a big way. We ran into a bit of injury trouble along the way but the guys came through. I guess the shootout  favoured us as we are used to it. The event was a huge opportunity for the players as there were so many scouts present.”

Hawerchuk’s Shawn Snider of the Georgetown Raiders: “I’m very happy for the guys. Winning five in a row was great for us and even though we fell just short, the players formed a close bond and succeeded as a group. We had a good preparatory meeting, made some adjustments along the way but did not assign real roles until Wednesday. But everyone played their part. The Challenge was well run and an enjoyable experience for everyone.”

Some final comments.

Connor Cameron, President of the Maritime Junior Hockey League: “The Eastern Canada Challenge is an excellent opportunity for our league, players and staff to showcase their abilities competing against the four other leagues. The OJHL and Trenton did an excellent job to provide a first-class event for our players and staff.”

Chris Vanstone, Vice-President of Hockey Operations for the OJHL, summed up the event: “The Eastern Canada Challenge has been a huge success. The host, Trenton, and the volunteers have been fantastic. The tournament has been well-scouted by the NHL, NCAA and U SPORTS. The OJHL teams have had a great showing. Team Oates started off a little slow but played their best hockey down the stretch. Team Hawerchuk finished first in their division and played very well throughout the tournament and came so close in the final. Everyone is looking forward to having the event again next year. It has been great for the Team Canada East staff to see players from different leagues playing against each other.”

Follow Ron Valentine on X at @ronandlynda


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