Hosts go 2-2 in Midget Atlantics, edged out of championship game
NEW GLASGOW – In mid-November the Weeks Major Midgets had a lot of people saying they didn’t deserve to attend or host Atlantics.
© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
Weeks Major Midgets’ forward Cody Johnston, right, looks for a shot from the point during Saturday afternoon’s game at the Pictou County Wellness Centre between Weeks and the Saint John Vitos. With both teams having 2-1 records going into the game, the team that won advanced to the final. Unfortunately for the hosts the Vitos won 3-1.
Maybe at that point in the season they didn’t, but over the weekend they were only a goal from making Sunday’s championship game against the Halifax McDonalds, the Nova Scotia representative.
On Friday night the McDonalds punched their ticket to the final, winning 2-1 over Weeks. The loss was the first for the host, giving them a 2-1 record going into the final day of round-robin play. With Halifax already in, the winner of the Saint John Vitos (2-1) and Weeks Major Midgets game would advance.
The possibility of tying to get into the final was also available for the hosts, who held the tiebreaker over the Vitos, but it was Matthew Gray’s breakaway goal 5:21 into the third period of Saturday’s game stood up as the game-winning goal as the Vitos knocked the hosts out of contention with a 3-1 victory.
Cody Johnston scored the lone Weeks goal, while Saint John had three different goal scorers.
Kyle Porter made 22 saves to help the Vitos advance. Luke Melanson had 18 saves on 20 shots for Weeks.
“We just knew everyone was saying that we can’t do this, we can’t do that, we shouldn’t even be here, but we knew from the start that we could be here,” said Johnston. “We had to prove that to everyone and I think we did exceptionally well. We could’ve done better, like we should be in that final, but I mean I couldn’t of done it with a better bunch of guys.”
At the 7:21 mark of the first period Johnston opened the scoring on a power play, taking a pass from Mark Vokey in the slot and putting it past a diving Porter.
Weeks held their lead through the remainder of the first period, although Melanson came up with some big saves on back-to-back Vitos power plays heading into the intermission.
Sam King evened things up 2:54 into the second period.
The score stayed tied 1-1 until Gray’s go-ahead goal in the final period.
With the puck near Weeks blue-line it was coughed up by defenceman Lucas Sangster, who lost his footing, sending Gray in alone on Melanson. He made no mistake on the breakaway, beating him high on the blocker side.
With 14:39 to tie the game, Weeks were still calm and collected according to Johnston. He said even with Saint John scoring a go-ahead goal there was no sense of panic.
“We just tried getting pucks to the net and never really had that many shots on goal, but we just kept battling hard,” he said. “The bounces went their way. We had a couple bounces that could’ve went our way and it could’ve gone either way. It’s tough, but we had a good year.”
- Read more special articles:
- McDonalds edge Vitos to win Atlantics
- Weeks topped by McDonalds, must defeat Vitos to advance
- Vitos bounce back with win over Kensington, face Weeks Saturday
- Weeks Midgets open with back-to-back wins
Late in the game Weeks pulled Melanson for the extra man and although they were able to call a timeout to rest their key players and draw up a plan, Saint John continued to shut them down offensively.
Porter made multiple saves in the dying minutes to keep it a one-goal game until Colin MacSween wrapped the game up with 10 seconds to go as he scored an empty-net goal.
“It’s tough, but like I said it’s the best bunch of guys and best year,” said Johnston. “We had a lot of adversity, but we overcame it and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was the best three years of my life. It was wicked.”
The 17-year-old forward is now done his midget hockey career after three seasons with the Weeks organization. In his three years he amassed 54 goals and 97 points in 105 games, which includes his two goals and two assists this week at Atlantics.
This was his best offensive season for Weeks, but that didn’t come without some ups and downs. Johnston missed a few games had issues with his shoulder that could only be fixed by having surgery. He elected to wait until after the season to have the surgery, knowing if he had it he would be done for his final season of midget.
“I just knew I had to battle through it for the boys and really the guys kept me in it all year,” he said. “They’re the reason I kept playing. They’re pretty well family.”
A Saint John Sea Dogs and Weeks Crushers draft pick, he said he’s not sure what lies ahead for him in hockey. He said he’s just trying to reflect on what he and his teammates believe to have been a great season overall.
“As a big picture all the boys are saying it’s the best year of their life,” said Johnston. “We had some battles. We went like 2-18 or something at the start of the year and we turned it around from there. We know we got the best group, so I mean we’re happy with it, really happy with it.
“I think we showed a lot of people that we’re the team that should be here and everyone that had doubts that we shouldn’t be here or shouldn’t host – I don’t think they’re saying that now.”
Other Saturday scores
Central 4 vs. Kensington 3
Halifax 6 vs. Central 1
Halifax 5 vs. Saint John 4