rttc dartmouth
Road to the TELUS Cup: Dartmouth Major Midgets
New year, new name, same result – a trip to the TELUS Cup for the NSMMHL champions
David Brien
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April 11, 2016
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They’ve gone from Gladiators to Major Midgets, and from red and gold to blue and white, but the result is the same – the team from Dartmouth, N.S., will play for Canada’s National Midget Championship.

For the second year in a row Dartmouth has reached the TELUS Cup – last year as the Newbridge Academy Gladiators, this year as the Dartmouth Major Midgets; it’s the 10th time a Dartmouth team has played in the national championship, tied with Red Deer and Notre Dame for third all-time.

And with seven players back from 2015, the Major Midgets will rely on experience to improve on their disappointing sixth-place finish one year ago in Rivière-du-Loup, Que.

Dartmouth sat at a respectable 10-5-2 on Nov. 25 after a 5-3 loss to the Cole Harbour Wolfpack, the Major Midgets’ third loss in a row. That defeat would be the turning point.

A 17-game winning streak – and 20 wins in 21 games to close out the schedule – put Dartmouth back into the race for top spot in the Nova Scotia Major Midget League, although it would come up agonizingly short.

“We ended up losing first place [to Cole Harbour] by one point because we went on quite a run,” says head coach Steve Crowell. “We won 20 of our last 21 games. Our record this year is 61-9-4 including tournaments and playoffs, so we’ve been on a roll.”

And while the Major Midgets trailed the Cole Harbour Wolfpack in the regular season standings, they got the best of them when it mattered – in the playoffs.

After rolling through Pictou County and Halifax in the first two rounds with four-game and three-game sweeps, respectively, Dartmouth and Cole Harbour faced off in the NSMMHL final.

The Major Midgets opened with back-to-back wins in the best-of-five championship series, but missed out on a chance for a perfect playoffs with a 4-1 loss in Game 3.

Back on home ice with another chance to close out the series, Brock McLeod tied the game with 4:41 to go in the third period, and Matthew Warner got the winner in overtime, giving Dartmouth the NSMMHL championship and sending it back to the Atlantic Regional.

The Major Midgets were the class of the round robin in Conception Bay South, N.L., going 4-0, including a 4-3 shootout win over the Saint John Vito’s in their preliminary round finale.

The same two teams faced off for the regional title the following day, but there was a little less on the line; with the Vito’s hosting the TELUS Cup, Dartmouth had clinched a spot in the national championship just by reaching the championship game.

After two scoreless periods, Warner got the Major Midgets on the board with 8:33 left, only to see Saint John tie the game in the final 10 seconds with an extra attacker on the ice.

The Vito’s netted the winner early in overtime, leaving Dartmouth one goal short of a second consecutive regional championship.

“It was a little bittersweet in the Atlantic final because we knew going into the game that we had already qualified since we were playing the TELUS Cup’s host team,” says Crowell. “I’m not sure if that took a little edge off, but it was a heck of a hockey game nonetheless.”

Crowell, who will be coaching in his seventh national championship, not only knows what it’ll take for his team to win the TELUS Cup, but feels confident he has all the pieces to the puzzle on his roster.

“We have great goaltending, great puck-moving defencemen and great speed up front,” he says. “We have good playmakers and we have six players that have anywhere between 30 and 50 goals and we have another one with 28. So when you have seven forwards with 28 goals or more, you have scoring from every line.”

Dartmouth is looking for its third medal at Canada’s National Midget Championship; it won bronze as host in 1992, and earned silver on the back of a record-setting performance by Sidney Crosby in 2002.

HOW DARTMOUTH GOT TO QUISPAMSIS

Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League
Quarter-final: defeated Pictou County 4-0 (7-0, 12-2, 6-1, 9-1)
Semifinal: defeated Halifax 3-0 (4-3, 6-5 OT, 3-1)
NSMMHL championship: defeated Cole Harbour 3-1 (5-1, 3-2 OT, 1-4, 4-3 OT)

Atlantic Regional
Round robin: first place – 4-0 (defeated St. John’s Maple Leafs 4-0, defeated St. John’s Privateers 3-1, defeated Kensington 6-2, defeated Saint John 4-3 SO)
Championship: lost to Saint John 2-1 OT

REGULAR SEASON

Record: 30-5-3 (2nd in NSMMHL)
Goals For: 177 (1st in NSMMHL)
Goals Against: 77 (1st in NSMMHL)
Longest Winning Streak: 17 (Nov. 28-Jan. 31)
Top 3 Scorers:
Evan MacKinnon – 14G 29A 43P (6th in NSMMHL)
Andrew Coxhead – 22G 20A 42P (7th in NSMMHL)
Brock McLeod – 25G 15A 40P (11th in NSMMHL)

PLAYOFFS

Record: 14-2
Goals For: 78
Goals Against: 31
Top 3 Scorers:
Brock McLeod – 13G 13A 26P
Dylan Burton – 8G 15A 23P
Matt Warner – 9G 10A 19P

NATIONAL MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

2015 – Newbridge Academy Gladiators | sixth place | 0-4-1 | 9GF 23GA
2002 – Dartmouth Subways | silver medal | 4-2-1 | 30GF 32GA
2001 – Dartmouth Subways | fourth place | 3-3-1 | 29GF 35GA
1996 – Dartmouth Subways | fifth place | 1-2-2 | 18GF 25 GA
1995 – Dartmouth Subways | sixth place | 1-4-0 | 7GF 20GA
1992 – Dartmouth Kings | bronze medal | 3-3-0 | 15GF 14GA
1987 – Dartmouth Forbes | sixth place | 1-4-0 | 14GF 25GA
1985 – Dartmouth Forbes | fourth place | 2-4-1 | 29GF 35GA
1984 – Dartmouth Forbes | sixth place | 0-4-1 | 6GF 33GA

PLAYERS TO WATCH

ANDREW COXHEAD
scoring threat whenever on the ice … can be dominant … great compete level … muscles opponents off the puck … sees the ice well … sound positioning … protects the puck well

PETER DILIBERATORE
moves the puck quickly … creative player … leads the break-out with confidence … offensive defenceman … very good hands .. plays with poise … can log a ton of minutes

EVAN MACKINNON
great acceleration … offensive-minded player … playmaking winger … uses speed and skill to put defenders on their heels … never gives up … not afraid to go into corners

QMJHL DRAFTED PLAYERS

Brock McLeod – Sherbrooke 2015 (4th round, 66th overall)
Connor MacLeod – Cape Breton 2015 (10th round, 164th overall)
Brett Thorne – Rimouski 2015 (12th round, 217th overall)

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]

 

Katie Macleod
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-284-6427
Mobile: 403-612-2893
[email protected]

 

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