From a backbreaking end to regulation to overtime jubilation.
The Moncton Flyers worked overtime to make history at the Telus Cup with blueliner Jack Martin scoring 40 seconds into the extra-session to edge Quebec’s Cantonniers de Magog 5-4 on May 22 at Okotoks’ Pason Centennial Arena to become the first team from New Brunswick to win the U18 AAA national hockey title.
“I was pretty frustrated after the third,” said Martin, the tournament’s Top Defensive Player. “We came out flying in (overtime), we had a lot of confidence going.
“We’re a family in there, we knew we had it. We had the whole province behind us, all of Canada wanted us to win. It’s big for New Brunswick and it shows that we can compete with everyone.”
Facing a two-goal deficit in the late stages, Cantonniers rallied back with a seemingly impossible two-goal surge in the final 65 seconds of regulation.
Éli Baillargeon cut the lead to one with a rebound tally with 1:04 left and on the next shift went to the net to pot his second in all of 16 seconds to force the extra session.
“I don’t know what happened there,” said Moncton captain Luke Patterson, the tournament MVP. “A couple of lucky bounces and the puck was in our net, but we got in that room and recovered.
“We knew we wanted to win this bad for each other and we came out in overtime and earned it.”
Magog got the early jump in the final with Alix Durocher lighting the lamp less than four minutes into the contest and Jules Boilard, the tournament’s Top Forward award winner, doubling the advantage late in the frame on a powerplay, just seconds after Cantonniers had a goal disallowed on a goal mouth scramble in tight.
“We were gutsy today,” said Patterson. “We started off a little slow, but that second period was probably the best period we’ve played all year and it came at the right time.”
The Flyers found their wings in the middle stanza with special teams playing a leading role.
Philippe Collette scored on the man-advantage less than two minutes into the period, Marco Martin evened the score at the 9:11 mark and Patterson gave Moncton its first lead of the final 13:04 into the frame.
Zachary Wheeler, 15, added the insurance marker with 7:07 left in regulation before Magog mounted its pushback.
“We were just focused, obviously we were upset with how the third ended,” Martin said. “But we knew we could come out and win a national championship and that’s what we did.
“We’re such a positive team, we’re so close in there and we know we can overcome everything. And that’s what we did all week. We came here to (Okotoks) knowing we could win this.”
The Flyers, who entered the final as the only undefeated team, edged the Mississauga Reps 6-5 in overtime on a Wheeler tally to advance to the championship match with Magog overpowering Notre Dame 8-2 in the other semifinal.
“That intermission was huge, you get those 15 minutes to regroup and we needed that,” Patterson added. “Our overtime record this year is pretty much perfect, going in there today we felt pretty confident.”
Moncton handed Magog its only defeat in the preliminary round by a 4-3 count on the third day of action.
Magog, a fixture on the national stage, has now finished as runner-ups in three consecutive Telus Cup championships.
The Flyers, appearing in their ninth Telus Cup tournament, not only give the province its first national gold, but the Atlantic region as a whole just its second title.
“This group is different,” Patterson said. “Every single person on this team I would do anything for, we’re a true family, I love every single one of them and it’s just special.
“We know we had the whole province behind us, we felt their support and to get it done means a lot to us and I’m sure to the province as well.”
Earlier in the evening at Pason Centennial Arena, the Durham West Lightning edged the Fraser Valley Rush 4-1 to capture the team’s first Esso Cup championship.
The 2022 tournaments marked the first time the Esso and Telus Cup competitions were held at the same site with the Pason Centennial Arenas and Scott Seaman Sports Rink venues used for the seven-day nationals.
“This was awesome,” Martin said. “A great experience and something we’ll probably never get to experience again in our lives.
“It means so much, seeing all the support back home that we got. It was unreal and something so special to be a part of.”