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Sackville's men's hockey Titans fall one goal shy of provincial title

Tantramar Regional High School
Tantramar Regional High School

SACKVILLE, N.B. – The Tantramar Titans finished off a fantastic season this weekend, coming one goal shy of the provincial championship.

On Friday, the boys played their first game of the Final Four held in Grand Falls, opening the tournament with a match against James M. Hill of Chatham. A furious first period saw lots of scoring, but TRHS settled things down in the second and pulled out the 4-2 victory. JMH had no answer to the speed and skill of the Titans, and Alex Robertson brought all kinds of nastiness to this one, earning player of the game. Robertson scored the game winner and Tyler Long, Jeff Lafford and Alex Hall rounded out the scoring. Assists went to Jacob Estabrooks, Aidan O’Neal, Jack Estabrooks and Kyle Trenholm. After the wild first period Sam Tower was solid the rest of the way to pick up the win in nets.

Game two on Saturday morning was with the Carlton North Stars. This was the second matchup in two weeks as these teams locked horns at regionals the week prior, which was probably one of the top two most entertaining games of the year. The Stars started the tournament much like the Titans, having a slow start to Roland Pepin and getting into a hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of and dropping their opener, turning this into a must win for CNHS. It was a back and forth affair with O’Neal scoring in the first only to have Carlton North tie it up in the second on a questionable goalie interference goal. It was late in the third when hard working Zach Lloyd tapped in the winner off of a CNHS goalie’s miscue to take the lead. With the Stars pressing Ryan Brown sealed the deal with an empty netter. Brown also picked up an assist as did Lafford, both on the O’Neal goal. Tower recorded the win along with the player of the game award. Tyler Long also had a huge hand in this victory, keeping close quarters with the CNHS big guns, keeping them off their game and doing all the little things that need to be done to be successful.

The loss sent Carlton North packing. This was definitely a huge blow to a team that expected to win it all. To sum up the type of powerhouse CNHS is, they beat three time defending AAA champs, Leo Hayes of Fredericton twice, and Fredericton High once, also a perennial top 4 AAA team.

With the Titans and Roland Pepin Predateurs of Campbleton sitting atop the standings with perfect 2-0 records they were both assured a spot in the championship game on Sunday but still hadn’t played each other. With nothing but home ice on the line both teams just felt each other out, rested a few players each and the Titans came out on top 4-2. Eddie DeJesus came in relief and as he has done all year made many timely saves and backstopped the Titans to a 4-2 victory. Brown paced the scoring with two tallies, and O’Neal and Jared Prescott scored as well.   Jacb Estabrooks set up two goals, and Andrew Steele, Robertson and Blair Estabrooks also were awarded assists. Brown was awarded player of the game for his outstanding effort.

After all was said and done, only two teams remained for a one game, winner takes all affair. Unfortunately for the Titans sometimes you get the bounces and sometimes you don’t. Roland Pepin jumped out to a 3-0 lead on another questionable goalie interference goal, another off of a point shot that deflected off of three helmets to just drop into the net behind Tower and another unreal, near impossible goal from in tight. TRHS made things close but the Predateurs power play proved to be deadly scoring another with the final score in Roland Pepin’s favour 4-3. The Titans were not without their chances, but a bad bounce here and there made the difference.   Roland Pepin Predateurs were awarded the championship banner as the Titans looked on. Jeff Lafford had a fantastic game scoring two and was on both sides of huge hits all night. Spencer Acton also scored in his last game as a Titan and Brown continued his hot hand setting up two, and Lloyd and Long both adding assists. Captain Jack Estabrooks, playing basically on one leg, garnered player of the game for TRHS.

With the season now over, the taste of defeat is bitter, but everyone from rink attendants to bus drivers to on and off ice officials constantly complimented this team on their sportsmanship and professionalism. Coach Austin, assistants Hicks, Cullihill, Burry, Brown, and the entire coaching and management staff did an absolutely fantastic job in moulding these teenage boys into fine young men.

The Titans final stats consist of a staggering 31 wins, 7 losses, 5 ties and 2 OT losses.      

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