NORTH YORK TOPS HOST VITO’S FOR FIRST TELUS CUP TITLE
QUISPAMSIS, N.B. – Aidan Casey scored two goals to pace the offence and help the North York Rangers win the TELUS Cup for the first time ever with a 4-1 win over the Saint John Vito’s on Sunday.
It is the second consecutive year that a team from the Greater Toronto Hockey League has won Canada’s National Midget Championship; the Toronto Young Nationals claimed the national title in 2015.
Liam Gillanders and James Turner added a goal and an assist apiece for the Rangers, who became the third Central Region champion to win gold, joining the Young Nationals and 2008 Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves.
Will Kelly had the lone goal for the host Vito’s, who equaled the best finish for an Atlantic team in tournament history – the 2002 Dartmouth Subways, led by a 14-year-old Sidney Crosby, also won silver – and are the first New Brunswick team to ever win a medal.
The capacity crowd at the qplex had the Vito’s going early, with Anderson MacDonald getting three quality scoring chances in the opening minutes, but Rangers goaltender Jett Alexander kept the game scoreless.
Casey got the game’s first goal at 7:35, letting go a wrist shot that beat screened Saint John netminder Jake Stewart, but Kelly buried a rebound behind Alexander 1:11 later to tie the game.
The next goal wouldn’t come until just shy of the midway mark of the second period, and it came on a North York power play; Gillanders’ slap shot from the point hit a Saint John player on its way through and found the five-hole on Stewart to give the Rangers the lead for good.
Defence took over from there, with North York winning puck battles, keeping possession and making sure most of the play was in the Saint John zone; the Vito’s managed just 10 shots in the final 40 minutes.
With Saint John pressuring late for the tying goal, Casey jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and outraced everyone, going to the backhand to beat Stewart for an insurance goal with 2:16 to go.
Turner found the empty net with 99 seconds left to clinch the win, and the national title.
The Rangers finished with a 26-18 advantage in shots on goal; the 44 combined shots were the lowest of any game during the tournament.
The 2017 TELUS Cup, Canada’s 44th National Midget Championship, will be held April 23-30, 2017, with the Cariboo Cougars of the B.C. Major Midget League playing host.