Bracebridge team bounces into top eight in nationwide street hockey tournament
The Bracebridge Worst Case Ontarios took on teams across Canada during the Hockey Night in Canada Play On street hockey championships in Niagara Falls in late September. The team finished among the top eight teams in Canada. (Submitted photo)
A Bracebridge street hockey team has returned from a nationwide tournament determined to achieve better results against rivals from Quebec next year.
Between Sept. 28 and 29, the team of seven Bracebridge players competed in Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On championships in Niagara Falls, an invitation-only event that featured 114 elite street hockey teams from across the country. Calling themselves the Worst Case Ontarios, the Bracebridge team entered the event ranked fourth nationwide, and finished as one of the top eight teams in Canada.
The team consisted of Nick Cross, Zach Lillie, Jake Yard, Jeff Dawson, Mike Baxter, Andrew Loverock and Mike Kusy.
“We’ve been looking forward to this weekend all summer and we are obviously a little disappointed, but we had a good first run at it,” said Cross.
The Worst Case Ontarios earned a spot in the two-day event after competing in a Barrie qualifier in June.
The first day of the tournament featured a round robin, where Bracebridge played three games, scoring two wins and one loss. However, the competition got stiffer on the second day. Though the Bracebridge boys started off with a 9-1 victory over the Pickering Reds, the team briefly ran into a bit of trouble when they faced off against the Dieppe Danglers from New Brunswick.
“The score was tied 2-2 halfway through the game when Dieppe scored a couple of quick goals off a one-timer and a penalty shot to make the score 4-2,” said Cross. “This didn’t worry our boys as they grinded it out and fought back to win the game 7-5.”
The Worst Case Ontarios then capped off the day with a 9-3 win over the Toronto Friends.
Advancing to the quarter-finals, the Bracebridge team found themselves toe-to-toe against the Montreal CBCs, who were ranked second going into the national tournament.
“(We) were warned of the tough competition from the province of Quebec as they play three-on-three ball hockey year-round,” said Cross. “A slow start, some bad bounces and a scored penalty shot found Bracebridge down 7-3 just over halfway into the game.”
Though Bracebridge fought back furiously, the game ended with a 5-7 loss.
However, the defeat has left the Bracebridge team determined to do even better next year. Cross said he hopes the players can fit in a bit more practice time next time around, and is also hoping the team will fine-tune their strategy for a more competitive edge against their Quebec rivals.
“We kind of just played hard and tried to win the games, but the Quebec teams played all year-round, and they knew what they were doing out there,” he said.