Bantam A Jr. Stars O.M.H.A. Champions, News, Bantam A ('97), U14-U15 Travel, 2011-2012 (St. Thomas Minor Hockey)

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Bantam A Jr. Stars O.M.H.A. Champions
Submitted By Scott Tottle on Sunday, April 1, 2012
It was a fitting ending to an exciting, tension-filled series.  Game 5 of the O.M.H.A. Bantam "A" Championships between the St. Thomas Jr. Stars and the Oshawa Jr. Generals was played Saturday afternoon at the venerable Memorial Arena in St. Thomas.  With the score knotted at 3-3 midway through the third period, Andrew Baxter placed himself into the position where he always likes to be... in the spotlight.  Much to the delight of all Stars' fans, the player formerly known as Li'l Baxter unleashed an incredible snap shot, off his back foot and from a sharp angle, high over the glove of Generals' netminder James Hack, bar down, to score what proved to be the championship winning goal.    

The Jr. Stars were forced to regroup after an extremely disappointing loss in game 4 of the championship series the previous Sunday afternoon.  Leading the six point series 4-2 and cherishing an opportunity to clinch the O.M.H.A. Championship, the Stars inexplicably reverted to their old undisciplined ways.  A parade of needless penalties resulted in the Stars letting a two goal lead evaporate on the way to a devastating 3-2 loss.

The Stars needed the week off between games to gather their composure, overcome the disappointment off letting a golden opportunity to win a championship slip away, and to plan their attack for game 5. The week was put to good use and the players arrived early for game 5 with a positive and determined mindset.

Michael McArthur gave the Stars the start they were looking for to ease some of the "game 5 jitters".   At 11:30 of the first period, Andrew Baxter fed Michael with a beautiful pass in the neutral zone to set him in on a clear breakaway.  Micmac let go snap shot to the bottom left corner just over the outstretched pad of Oshawa goaltender James Hack.  Tyson Durfy also assisted on the goal.  

A couple of unfortunate bounces allowed the Generals to score two power play goals in a span of two minutes in the middle of the second period to take a 2-1 lead and put the Stars back on their heels.

But with less than three minutes remaining in the second period, Jesse Tottle controlled the puck in the left corner and spotted Dylan Newman cruising into the slot. Jesse sauced him a perfect pass and Dylan made no mistake, unleashing a laser-like one-timer between the pads of Hack to tie the score at 2-2.  Derek Folkard also earned an assist on the play.

A little over a minute later, while enjoying their only power play of the game, Jesse outfought an Oshawa defender for the puck in the right corner.  Driving to the net, Jesse fed Andrew with a nice goal-mouth pass for a slam dunk and give the Stars a 3-2 lead.

However, the lead was short-lived.  With only :35 seconds remaining in the second period, an otherwise harmless point shot from Oshawa assistant captain Garrett Ouellette deflected off a Stars' stick up over the glove of Greyson Tottle to tie the game at 3-3 heading into the third period.  The goal was another disappointing blow to the Stars' psyche, but it also set the stage for the heroics of Andrew Baxter.

Despite some anxious moments in the final minute of the game, Andrew's impressive shot at 7:31 of the third period stood up as the game and championship winning goal for the Stars.  Derek Smith and Dane Jacoletti were credited with assists on the play.

Championship Notes:  The win marks the second time St. Thomas has won the Bantam "A" O.M.H.A. Championship.  The last time was 1995-96.....The Stars showed tremendous character and resolve in overcoming the Game 4 disappointment, as well as the game tying goal in the last minute of the second period..... it is always nice to see players rise to the occasion in important games.....Dylan Newman, Michael McArther and Tyson Durfy played perhaps their best games of the season..... and what can you say about Andrew Baxter scoring the game tying and game winning goals in the deciding game of an O.M.H.A.Championship....memories to last a is also nice to know that the Stars can win an important series against a very good team without Jesse Tottle scoring a single goal.....with the pressure of winning a championship now behind them, the Stars can now focus their energies on the Ontario Hockey Federation Championship in Hearst, Ontario, with opening ceremonies on April 12, 2012.....until then....keep your stick on the ice and keep reaching for the Stars.

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