Sault Ste. Marie North Stars 0 - Red Deer Optimist Rebels 2
OPTIMIST REBELS OPEN WITH CONVINCING WIN
Sault Ste. Marie goaltender Thomas Gravelines was the star, stopping 28 of 30 shots and picking up Player of the Game honours, but it was the host Red Deer Optimist Rebels who skated away with the victory, 2-0 over the North Stars on Monday night in the opening game for both at the TELUS Cup.
Following a scoreless opening period that saw the hosts outshoot the North Stars 11-5, Matt Fraser got the Optimist Rebels on the board late in the middle frame, his point shot finding its way through Gravelines on a Red Deer powerplay.
Cass Mappin pushed the lead to two early in the third period, firing a shot over the glove hand of Gravelines on a shorthanded 2-on-1.
The Optimist Rebels’ defense and goaltender Marc Boulanger shut down the North Stars the rest of the way, holding the Central Region champions to just 14 shots overall.
“I thought out boys came out, were physical, and really threw Sault Ste. Marie off their game,” said Red Deer head coach Brent Fudge. “I was impressed with the way we took the body.”
Red Deer’s Corey Campbell was selected as his team’s Player of the Game after a strong all-around game from the 5-foot-7 captain.
The Optimist Rebels take to the ice again Tuesday night at Red Deer Arena when they take on the St. John’s Maple Leafs, while the North Stars will face the Vancouver North West Giants, starting at 3:30 p.m. MT.
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PREVIEW: OPTIMIST REBELS BEGIN QUEST FOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AGAINST NORTH STARS
The host team for the 2007 TELUS Cup takes to the ice for the first time on Monday night at Red Deer Arena as the Optimist Rebels take on the Sault Ste. Marie North Stars in the first game for both teams.
The Optimist Rebels have to be considered a favourite for their first national championship, as they carry a 24-game home-ice winning streak into the National Midget Championship. Seventeen wins and a tie in the regular season, as well as six wins in the playoffs, mean a big advantage for the home team.
Red Deer had an offence by committee in the regular season, with nine players registering at least 20 points, led by Kyle Reynolds’ 30 (17 goals, 13 assists). The goaltending was also a strong point, as Marc Boulanger and Adam Gingras finished one-two in both goals against average and save percentage.
Sault Ste. Marie got hot at the right time at the Central Regional, following up a 3-3 round robin with wins over the London Jr. Knights – who were unbeaten at the Regional going in – in the semi-final, and the Richmond Hill Stars in the championship game – a game that took double overtime to decide.
Brett Thompson is the offensive star for the North Stars, putting up 66 points (30 goals, 36 assists) in the regular season, and a staggering 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists) in just eight playoff games. Jarret Burton also had a strong postseason, racking up 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in nine games.
It has been 17 years since a host team won the National Midget Championship – Richelieu in 1990 – a streak the Optimist Rebels hope to end this year, but the North Stars have their sights set on playing spoiler, and handing the hosts their first home-ice loss since the 2006 Alberta Midget Hockey League playoffs.