SUNDAY, MAY 21
Nick Minerva (Cobourg Cougars)
As if there was any doubt. Minerva earned his place in Cobourg hockey lore with the overtime winner in the national championship game, making the Cougars the ninth host team in tournament history to hoist the RBC Cup. Midway through the extra period, the defenceman – who joined the Cougars from the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles at the January trade deadline – ripped a one-timer through a screen and past Brooks goaltender Mitch Benson to end just the fifth OT final at Canada’s National Junior A Championship.
SATURDAY, MAY 20
Theo Lewis (Cobourg Cougars)
Lewis’ five-year junior career – every game of which has been spent with the Cougars – will come to an end Sunday on the biggest stage in the Junior A game: the RBC Cup final. He led the way in the third period of the semifinal, scoring the game-winning goal with eight minutes left before setting up the empty-net insurance marker. Lewis has thrived under the bright lights of the RBC Cup; after scoring 11 goals in 62 combined regular-season and playoff games, he has three in his last three, all of them Cobourg wins.
THURSDAY, MAY 18
Brenden Locke (Cobourg Cougars)
The Cougars are off to the playoffs as the top seed after getting contributions from everywhere in the win over Brooks. Locke played the set-up role to perfection for the hosts, earning a trio of primary assists; he fed Brennan Roy for the one-timer on the power play that opened the scoring in the first period, found Jesse Baird for the game-winner with the man advantage in the second, and used his speed to race away on the breakaway that preceded an insurance goal from Spencer Roberts in the third. Semifinals, here we come.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 17
Nicholas Jones (Penticton Vees)
Knowing a win would get his team into the semifinals with a game to spare, Jones took over against Trenton, scoring a goal and assisting on two others as the Vees locked up a final-four spot. With Penticton nursing a one-goal lead late in the second period, the captain doubled the advantage before helping set up Massimo Rizzo, and fed Grant Cruikshank for the final nail in the coffin in the third. The three points pushed Jones (1G 4A) into a three-way tie for the scoring lead with one game left in the preliminary round.
TUESDAY, MAY 16
Spencer Roberts (Cobourg Cougars)
There are few who provide energy on the ice for the Cougars better than Roberts, who was front and centre to help the hosts clinch a spot in the semifinals. He went hard to the net to jam in the 1-0 goal just 22 seconds in, chipped in a backhand late in the second period to give Cobourg a little bit of insurance, and did the dirty work on both Theo Lewis goals in the final minutes. The four-point outburst leaves Roberts even with Cale Makar for the tournament scoring lead, with five points through three games.
MONDAY, MAY 15
Taylor Sanheim (Penticton Vees)
Left out of the line-up for the Vees’ tournament opener on Sunday, Sanheim certainly made the most of his first opportunity, burying a no-look, behind-the-back feed from Nicholas Jones to give Penticton a thrilling extra-time win over Cobourg and avoid consecutive losses. The Elkhorn, Man., native has had a knack for big goals lately; he has scored twice in his last eight games and both were winners – he netted the GWG in a victory over Portage at the Western Canada Cup that kept Penticton’s season alive.
SUNDAY, MAY 14
Jérémy Bélisle (Cobras de Terrebonne)
As a goaltender, when your team averages more than six goals per game in the regular season and playoffs, more than any other team in the nation, there are very few nights you need to be the difference. Sunday was one of those nights for Bélisle, and he answered the call. The Terrebonne netminder turned aside 28 shots in the first two periods to keep the Cobras close, and stopped all seven he faced in the third period while his team completed the comeback to edge Trenton and earn its first win.
SATURDAY, MAY 13
Josh Maguire (Cobourg Cougars)
The Cobourg captain broke his hand in the OJHL playoffs and missed his team getting swept by Trenton in the semifinals, but he certainly didn’t show any rust facing the Golden Hawks on the national stage. Maguire – a Cobourg native who returned home for his final season of junior hockey – opened the scoring late in the first period and tapped in the winner to close it 3:54 into overtime, giving the hosts a measure of revenge and, more importantly, an early edge in the standings that could be huge later in the week.