Editor’s note: The following was submitted by Jeff Tower.
SACKVILLE, N.B. – The Tantramar Regional High School (TRHS) men’s hockey Titans are working on the fine-tuning their game on the fly, playing 8 games in under 2 weeks.
Last Tuesday they made the trip to Quispamsis for their first meeting with Kennebecasis Valley Crusaders. In a wild and penalty filled game the Crusaders came out on top 3-1. Scoring for the Titans was Jared Prescott with assists going to Kyle Trenholm and Just Vogels. The Crusaders are a physically large and fast team loaded with seniors with a few former Saint John Vito players of the Midget AAA team who have been very successful in the past two years. Sam Tower was tagged with the loss between the pipes.
Following that game, TRHS managed to squeeze in a couple practices before again loading the bus for the Annual Arauco Tournament in St. Stephen. Fortunately, the opening game for the Titans on Friday night was against Ecole Sainte Anne Castors. The Titans dominated play throughout, with player of the game Seth Smith sniping the first two goals of the game, and Alex Hall, Tyler Long and Jeff Lafford all scoring as well. Assists went to J. Prescott with two, Long, Kyle Trenholm and Owen O’Neal. Thomas Allen recorded his first shutout of the season.
Next up was another showdown with the Crusaders. Unable to create much pressure, the Titans dropped another to the AAA Southern Conference powerhouse 5-3. Long had a goal and a helper and O’Neal and Longpre both managed to find the back of the net but it was not enough as the Crusaders scored two with a two-man advantage that was called against the Titans just 32 seconds into the game, putting the Titans in a hole that they could not get out of. Officiating is generally questionable in the region and this game left most in attendance scratching their heads. Tower again was left with duties of trying to shut down the potent offence.
Next up was last year’s rivals the Carlton North Stars in a deciding game for moving to the semifinals. The Titans controlled throughout, building a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately, the North Stars pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and scored two unanswered goals with under a minute to go, but the Titans held on for the tie. Because of the tie-breaker rules and both teams having identical records, total goals for in the previous tournament games gave the Titans higher seeding, allowing them to move on and sending CNHS packing. Lafford led the boys with a two-point night, with Lloyd chipping in a goal along with player of the game honours. Jared Prescott also scored, with assists going the Smith, Hall, O’Neal and Mason Prescott. Tower was solid in the crease.
Standing in the way of the Titans going to the championship game for a third consecutive year were the Nackawic Nighthawks. The lone single “A” team in the tournament, the Nighthawks earned their way to semis with an 8-3 drubbing of host St. Stephen. This would be the first time seeing the Nighthawks. The Nighthawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Titans got rolling and sank six past the NHS netminder for a 6-2 final. Long sniped a hat trick after Trenholm opened the scoring with a howitzer from center ice, and some fine tic-tac-toe passes to O’Neal and J. Prescott finished the scoring. Smith, with 2, Lafford, Trenholm and long rounded out the assists. Allen made several key saves in earing the victory.
It seemed strange that being only eight games into the season and only four practices to be playing a team for the third time in under a week. KVHS went through the round robin unscathed, as they have been doing all season. The high-flying Crusaders came out trying to put the game away early, but the Titans held them off with fine defensive play and the forwards covering their men as well. Lafford outworked the KVHS defence to open the scoring, and player of the game O’Neal and Lloyd also scored to take a 3-2 lead into the final period. Assists went to hard working rookies Riley Estabrooks and Dakota Melanson and another to Trenholm. In the third KVHS came out on a mission, pinning the Titans in their own end and finally found a way to tie it at 3 with only minutes to play and added two more on breakaways past Tower before adding an empty net goal to take the banner with a 6-3 final, a score that was not reflective of the game. It is fully expected that KVHS will be in the AAA final four along with powerhouse LJR Patriotes as they have already dismantled defending champions Leo Hayes and Southern Conference AAA champs St. Malachy’s. The Titans have work to do, all these teams have had dozens of practices to fine tune their game and TRHS have started their season with a hectic schedule only 2 weeks in. The future definitely looks bright for this high-speed squad.
Tournament All Stars were selected and The Titans were well represented with three All Stars out of six, with forward Tyler Long, Defenseman Jack Estabrooks and netminder Sam Tower all bringing home hardware.
The Titans are finally back playing at the familiar surroundings of the Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre for the Carl Ward Invitational Tournament, which opened Thursday night against the Sussex Sonics. The Titans play tonight (Friday) against the Woodstock Thunder at 9 p.m. On Saturday, TRHS plays host to Moncton High at 2 p.m. Tournament playoffs are on Sunday at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and finals are at 4 p.m. Sackville Minor Hockey players wearing their team jerseys get in for free and the Titans Chase the Ace will be starting this weekend as well. Be sure to come out and support your community team.