If Langton’s Joe Callens Memorial Novice and Peewee Rep Hockey Tournament was a test of nerves, the Langton Lions Club novices passed with golden colours.
The Lions won Sunday afternoon’s gold medal game 3-2 over Port Stanley to clinch their home tournament novice championship.
"It was a doozy of a game," said Langton novice coach Michel Vandendriessche.
Langton had opened the three-day tournament Friday with a 6-1 win over Norwich, then tied Port Stanley 5-5 and Hagersville 3-3 on Saturday. Port Stanley and Langton accumulated enough points to reach Sunday’s final.
Earlier Sunday afternoon, Norwich upset Hagersville 3-1 to win the bronze.
"Our goalie, Colten Butler, was on fire today," said Vandendriessche. "That one glove save when he pulled his stick back? the kid thought he had it and Colten swept it out of the crease. The Port Stanley coaches were looking over at us, laughing and shaking their heads."
Josh King scored Sunday’s game winner with 1:35 left to play in regulation, assisted by Marek Vanacker and Bayden Swain.
"The team played great, it was a good team effort today."
Langton 3, Port Stanley 2
Langton scoring: 1. Josh King (Kieran Gubesch, Bayden Swain); 2. Josh King (Oliver Wilson, Marek Vanacker); 3. Josh King (Marek Vanacker, Bayden Swain).
Langton 6, Norwich 1
Langton scoring: 1. Marek Vanacker (Josh King, Bayden Swain); 2. Stefan Vandendriessche (Logan Waugh); 3. Jack Pettit (Michael Vanacker, Brody Balazs); 4. Logan Waugh (Stefan Vandendriessche); 5. Stefan Vandendriessche (Logan Waugh); 6. Brody Balazs
Langton 5, Port Stanley 5
Langton scoring: 1. Josh King; 2. Brody Balazs (Michael Vanacker, Jack Pettit); 3. Michael Vanacker (Jack Pettit, Brody Balazs); 4. Stefan Vandendriessche (Logan Waugh); 5. Michael Vanacker (Josh King).
Langton 3, Hagersville 3
Langton scoring: 1. Logan Waugh (Stefan Vandendriessche); 2. Josh King (Kieran Gubesch); 3. Michael Vanacker (Stefan Vandendriessche).
Langton Minor Hockey’s annual Joe Callens Memorial is usually a novice, atom, peewee tournament with four teams in each division. This year they had more interest in peewee, adding two extra teams and a C Final (played Sunday afternoon between Langton Master Mechanic and Wainfleet).
"It was a ‘random’ round-robin for the peewees, everybody played three games, but you didn’t play everybody,"
In the first ‘half’ of their Southern Counties minor hockey season, the Langton novices were up against geographical rivals like Tillsonburg and Ingersoll.
"It was a tough go, but we did all right. I’d say we were just below middle of the pack, so we got put in the B Division,"
The traditional East/West divisions were realigned in December to form A/B/C divisions, depending on the number of teams in each age group.
"Now that we’re in B, we’re playing good competitive teams and we’re doing well. I don’t mind the extra driving if we’re going to have a good competitive game."
The current round of Southern Counties games need to be finished by the 18th, and the Lions novices continue tonight (Jan.7) at home to Twin Centre.
Two OMHA DD playoff games have been scheduled with Cayuga.
"I think we know what kind of team we have and, expectation-wise, we have a good understanding of the teams we’re going to be playing," Vandendriessche said. "If we keep playing hockey games like this, like we did today, then my expectations are going to be higher because they’re building momentum and getting better. And they’re building confidence."
He said his first-year novices, in particular, are getting more aggressive and confident.
"Before the game, I could tell? the whole team wanted to win. I could feel it. It was a good attitude in the dressing room before the game."