Wolfpack advance to SOSSA
Kelton Mayner couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present.
The Grade 12B student celebrated his 19th with a championship as the West Niagara Wolfpack defeated the Eden Flyers 5-3 Friday afternoon at Bill Burgoyne Arena in the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Zone 4 AAA boys hockey final.
The Wolfpack now advance to the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (SOSSA) playdowns Tuesday versus Ancaster at the Grimsby Peach King Centre.
“I’ve played for four years and we didn’t make it once,” Mayner said. “We were close but we never made it so this feels really good to come with a full team effort and move on together as a team.”
Mayner, who attended Grimsby Secondary School before it was merged with Beamsville Secondary School to form West Niagara, said it was an easy transition.
“Not as hard as I thought it was going to be,” he said. “We all gelled together really well and really quickly and we play hard.”
Mayner played hockey at the travel level until two years ago when he quit to focus on baseball.
“My first two years was with Grimsby and I had a bunch on fun with the older kids,” he said. “I quit my own league but continued to play high school and it’s been a bunch of fun.
“It’s an awesome experience.”
Wolfpack coach Roger Piotrowski had high praise for his captain.
“He’s probably the guttiest player I’ve coached,” Piotrowski said. “I had him when he was about four feet tall in Grade 9 and he’s always bought in. He always listened and is always respectful. You couldn’t ask for a better kid.”
On the diamond, Mayner is a second baseman for the Ontario Rockies and has aspirations of playing south of the border.
“I’ve talked to a couple of schools and I working out where I want to go now,” he said.
The Wolfpack raced out to a 5-1 lead after two periods before the Flyers rallied with a pair of goals in the third to make things interesting.
That’s when West Lincoln goaltender Liam Edgcumbe-Applebee took over and shut the door the rest of the way.
Edgcumbe-Applebee, a 14-year-old, Grade 9 student, is the Wolfpack’s only AAA player.
“I try and keep them on track when they’re getting off track,” said Edgcumbe-Applebee, who suits up for the Niagara North Stars U14 squad. “In the intermission we were up 5-1 and the guys were celebrating and I told them we need to stay in this, it’s a big game.
“I try to lead with my play throughout the season giving my all every game.”
Piotrowski said Edgcumbe-Applebee is the Wolfpack’s trump card.
“He’s the backbone of our team and the other kids know it,” he said.
The Wolfpack won only once during the regular season but Piotrowski said that is misleading.
“We played in a few tournaments and played the top teams really tight. We tied a good Denis Morris team so we’re right there,” he said. “It’s a group effort. We’ve said from Day 1 it was going to take a complete team effort.
“We’ve got wide range of players. I’ve got a lot of A and AA players and they just keep buying into the system. I’ve been doing this for 29 years now and I told them this is what’s going to work. You don’t necessarily need the skill if you’ve got the hockey IQ. They’re not just playing with emotion and in high school that’s what you get, a lot of emotion.”
Simcoe coach Drew Chapelle admitted it was difficult to dig out of a 5-1 deficit.
“We had to get on the front foot, get on the attack and take some chances with our D and get the puck moving in their end of the ice,” he said.
Chapelle was proud of the Flyers’ comeback, even though it fell short.
“Once that second one went in you could feel it. The guys on the bench were up and working hard. There was no quit in them. They knew they had them reeling and were going to do everything they could to finish them off.”
Other members of the Wolfpack are: Brody Baughman, Kyle Azem Simmons, Kiran McKennia, Nathan DeLuca, Trevor Kirchner, Alex Gibson, Declan Arnold, Josh Farraway, Ryan Kelly, Nick Bolibruck, Nathan Mirza, Nick Tassielli, Jakob Kossek, William Kossek, Josh Amirault, Harrison Rabb, Denton DeLong, Grier Tooke, Holden Goar, Stefan Jusdanis.
Wolfpack 5 Flyers 3
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: West Lincoln goaltender Liam Edgcumbe-Applebee.
For the West Niagara Wolfpack: Brody Baughman, Nathan DeLuca, Kyle Azen-Simmons, Kieran McKenna, Kelton Mayner.
For the Eden Flyers: Hudson Brens, Carter Thompson, Devan Dool.
Up next: The Wolfpack advance to the SOSSA playdowns Tuesday versus Ancaster at the Grimsby Peach King Centre.
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