Defence wins championships. That’s what the old adage says, and the Trenton Golden Hawks are making it awfully hard to argue against it being true.
The Golden Hawks have been absolutely lights-out on the defensive side of the puck this season, riding a minuscule goals-against average to Ontario Junior
Hockey League and Dudley Hewitt Cup titles, and their first-ever trip to the RBC Cup.
Trenton was one of only two teams in the country to allow less than two goals per game during the regular season – its 1.89 mark was slightly behind the
1.72 of the NOJHL champion Soo Thunderbirds, the team the Golden Hawks beat to win the regional championship – and it gave up just 32 goals in 22 playoff
The penalty-killing unit wasn’t too bad, either; Trenton was the only team in Canada to finish the regular season with a PK above 90%, allowing only 20
goals in 215 chances while shorthanded.
The formula for winning games became quite simple – score a couple of goals, win the game. The Golden Hawks allowed two goals or less in 38 of their 54
regular-season games, and 18 of 22 in the postseason.
With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why goaltender Daniel Urbani put his name in the OJHL record book; the Coquitlam, B.C., native posted a 1.69 GAA –
the fourth-best in OJHL history – and also led or co-led the league in wins (34) and shutouts (five).
And he wasn’t exactly busy. Despite playing the fourth-most minutes among OJHL netminders at 2,343, Urbani ranked just 16th in saves, averaging 22 stops
per 60 minutes of action.
Urbani and the defence are what pushed Trenton to the top of the OJHL standings for the second time in four seasons; it ran away with its second OJHL
regular-season championship in four seasons, finishing with a 14-point cushion over the second-place Georgetown Raiders.
The offence was pedestrian, finishing 59th out of 131 teams in the country with 3.57 goals per game, but Trenton scored the goals when it needed to, paced
by Danny Hanlon and his team-leading 60 points.
The Golden Hawks came flying off the start line and never looked back; ranked 13th in the preseason national rankings, Trenton won its first 12 games,
spent one week as the No. 1 team in the country in early October, and had a four-week stint atop the rankings in December and January.
Their spot atop the OJHL was never seriously threatened, and a 44-6-1-4 (W-L-T-OTL) record set up a first-round playoff match-up with the Newmarket
Hurricanes, which the Golden Hawks won in four straight.
They dispatched the Wellington Dukes in five games in the OJHL quarter-finals, and made short work of Kingston in the semis, outscoring the Voyageurs 19-9
in a sweep, and setting up a meeting with Georgetown in the league final.
The Raiders made Trenton work for its first-ever OJHL crown; after a 5-4 win on Game 1, the Golden Hawks dropped a double-overtime thriller to even up the
series before both teams clamped down defensively.
The final three games of the series featured a combined eight goals and Trenton won all three, blanking the Raiders 2-0 in Game 3 before earning a pair of
narrow 2-1 victories to clinch the series and the championship, and earn a trip to Kirkland Lake, Ont., for the Dudley Hewitt Cup.
The Golden Hawks needed three third-period goals to come from behind and win a penalty-filled tournament opener over Soo, but the much-talked-about defence
took over from there.
Trenton scored the game’s final five goals in a 5-1 win over the host Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, clinching a spot in the regional final, and Jackson
McIntosh stopped all 36 shots he faced in his first start in more than two months, shutting out the Fort Frances Lakers 3-0 to complete a perfect
Matched up with the Thunderbirds in the championship game, the Golden Hawks got a natural hat trick from Lucas Brown and 28 saves from Urbani, blanking Soo
4-0 to book their ticket to the 2016 RBC Cup.
History is not on the side of the Golden Hawks at Canada’s National Junior A Championship; since 2000, only three Central Region teams have reached the
national final (Rayside Balfour in 2000, and Aurora in 2004 and 2007), and Central teams have missed out on the semifinals in back-to-back years.
HOW THEY GOT TO LLOYDMINSTER
Ontario Junior Hockey League
Preliminary round: defeated Newmarket 4-0 (6-2, 2-0, 3-0, 6-2)
Quarter-final: defeated Wellington 4-1 (2-1, 2-3, 4-2, 4-1, 1-0)
Semifinal: defeated Kingston 4-0 (6-4, 5-1, 5-2, 3-2)
OJHL championship: defeated Georgetown 4-1 (5-4, 2-3 2OT, 2-0, 2-1, 2-1)
Dudley Hewitt Cup
Round robin: first place – 4-0 (defeated Soo 4-2, defeated Kirkland Lake 5-1, defeated Fort Frances 3-0)
Championship: defeated Soo 4-0
Record: 44-6-3-1 (1st in OJHL)
Goals for: 193 (10th in OJHL)
Goals against: 102 (1st in OJHL)
Power play: 51 for 226 (22.6% – 4th in OJHL)
Penalty killing: 195 of 215 (90.7% – 1st in OJHL)
Longest winning streak: 12 (Sept. 4-Oct. 9)
Top 3 scorers:
Danny Hanlon (21G 39A 60P – 20th in OJHL)
Mitch Emerson (28G 27A 55P – 31st in OJHL)
Hunter Fargey (23G 31A 54P – 35th in OJHL)
Goals for: 78
Goals against: 32
Power play: 23 for 91 (25.3%)
Penalty killing: 80 of 86 (93.0%)
Top 3 scorers:
Hunter Fargey (9G 17A 26P)
Lucas Brown (14G 11A 25P)
Kevin Lavoie (6G 17A 23P)
NATIONAL JUNIOR A CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
CJHL NATIONAL RANKINGS (WEEK-BY-WEEK)
Sept. 1 (preseason) – 13th
Sept. 29 – 3rd
Oct. 5 – 1st
Oct. 12 – 2nd
Oct. 19 – 2nd
Oct. 26 – 3rd
Nov. 9 – 4th
Nov. 16 – 3rd
Nov. 23 – 5th
Nov. 30 – 3rd
Dec. 7 – 2nd
Dec. 14 – 1st
Dec. 21 – 1st
Jan. 4 – 1st
Jan. 11 – 1st
Jan. 18 – 3rd
Jan. 25 – 4th
Feb. 1 – 4th
Feb. 8 – 4th
Feb. 15 – 4th
Feb. 22 – 4th
Feb. 29 – 4th
March 7 – 4th
Josh Allan – Sacred Heart University (2017-18)
Adam Clements – Nipissing University (2016-17)
Mitch Emerson – SUNY Oswego (2016-17)
Danny Hanlon – Wilfrid Laurier University (2016-17)
Curtis Harvey – St. Olaf College (2016-17)
Kevin Lavoie – Robert Morris University (2016-17)
Blayne Oliver – Hamilton College (2016-17)
Daniel Urbani – Canisius College (2016-17)