Bantam Storm eliminated after do-or-die game
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | March 27, 2015
With two of their star players injured on the sidelines, the Highland Storm Bantam A team was eliminated from the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) tournament on March 21 in Ingersoll.
After trailing 2-0 in the series against the Ingersoll Express, the Storm had to win two games to keep the hope alive. They lost 1-0 in their first game of the weekend to the Express, who won the Bantam division championship.
"I wanted them to go out and play the best that they could and they gave me everything they had," said coach James Reilly. "We hit a couple of posts, and they got a fluke goal. We just couldn't seem to get one."
On the injured list were the team's top two scorers – captain Kyle Cooper and alternate captain Nolan Flood.
"I needed those two players that were both injured," explained Reilly, adding that it's likely that the series would have gone to a fifth game had they been playing.
"Without them it was a struggle to get goals."
Reilly said that goalie Josh Bellefleur made many key saves.
"[He] held us right in there.”
Ingersoll scored the only goal of the game in the second period, just seconds after a power play. As the game went on, the Storm players became frustrated and found themselves in penalty trouble.
Reilly felt that the referee made several questionable calls.
"This ref kind of had a bit of an attitude," he said. "There were two players shoving each other in front of the net and he just sent our player to the box instead of both of them. Things like that were going on."
In reflecting on the season, Reilly is grateful for being given the opportunity to work with "a great bunch of young men" and the team's staff, which included assistant coach Travis Walker, trainer Tom Prentice, assistant trainer Greg Turner and manager Kirk Cooper.
He hopes that each player takes what they learned this season and applies those skills in other areas of their life.
"They're just a great bunch of young men, and I hopefully think that what they were taught about hockey they can take out in the real world. They matured quite a bit and developed quite a bit."
As for next season, Reilly doesn't yet know if he will be back as head coach.
"I can only put my name in," he said. "Then the Highland Storm committee will decide who falls into what."
With files from Suzanne Haedicke
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.