By John DeCoste
Given the successful season they have had so far, it’s no real surprise that the Valley Midget Wildcats were among the better teams at the recent East Coast Ice Jam in Bedford.
The Wildcats ended the four-day tournament, which featured 18 teams from throughout Atlantic Canada, with a record of four wins and two losses. Both losses came at the hands of the Moncton Flyers, the only team to go through the tournament undefeated.
In their opening game Jan. 10, the Wildcats blanked the Western Kings from Corner Brook, NL 6-0, with Justin Ritcey stopping 14 shots to earn the shutout.
Grant Janes led the offence with two goals and an assist, and Nick Blanchard had a goal and an assist. Eric Chipman, Duncan McKie and Robert Patterson had the other Valley goals, and Brett Tidman finished with a pair of assists.
The Wildcats’ next game was their 5-4 loss against Moncton. Blanchard had a pair of goals for the ’Cats, with Tyler McDowell and Janes adding single markers.
In their final round robin game, the Wildcats got back on the winning track with a 3-0 shutout of the Charlottetown Islanders. John Deacon, Jacob McNutt and Michael Dill had the goals, and Michael Pettet made 21 saves for the shutout.
Their 2-1 round robin record was good enough to qualify the Wildcats for the playoff round. In quarterfinal action, Valley took on Cape Breton West Islanders and came away with a 6-0 victory, their third shutout of the tournament.
Tanner Forrest had two goals and singles came from Brad Boone and McNutt. Tidman and McDowell took care of the offence, with McNutt and McDowell’s goals both power play markers. This time, Pettet made 14 saves for the shutout.
Valley’s opponent in the semifinals was the Halifax Titans. McNutt’s goal with 6:15 remaining in overtime was the game-winner in a 2-1 Wildcats’ victory. Janes had the Valley goal in regulation time.
The win propelled the Wildcats into the final and a rematch with Moncton.
After the Flyers grabbed the early advantage with a goal by Kyle Ward, Valley responded with a power play goal by Janes and even-strength markers by Steven Brooker and Janes again to take a 3-1 lead after one period.
Moncton then had four unanswered goals to prevail 5-3.
The Flyers outshot the Wildcats 17-4 in the third period and 45-27 overall.
Janes, who was named a second team all-star, finished the tournament with a team-high six goals and 11 points.