April 11th to 14th, way up in Hearst Ontario, the Brampton 45's Midget AA hockey team capped off a remarkable season by winning the coveted Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) championships. This title was the final piece for the 45's Triple Crown, which also included wins in the International Silver Stick, and Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) Championships.
In this inaugural season for the newly name Brampton Hockey Association team moniker, the 45's (formally the Battalion), the Midget AA team became the first to win the OHF championships, and one of the only teams from Brampton to ever accomplish that feat.
This is truly a Tournament of Champions. Brampton would face off in round robin format against other championship teams from around the province. The West Mall Lighting (GTHL), London Nationals ( Alliance ), Sudbury Redman (NOMHA) and Hearst Élan's ( Host ) along with the 45's had all won individual titles in play down format for the opportunity to compete at the OHF's.
Brampton opened up the tournament facing off against the Sudbury Redman. That game ended in a 5-0 victory for the 45's. They went on to complete the round robin going 3-0-1, with wins against West Mall (4-1), and Hearst (5-3). The tie came against the London Nationals (4-4). With 1st place seed confirmed, Brampton would get another opportunity to play the Nationals in the 2nd Semi Final on Sunday morning. In this game, Brampton's character and discipline was put to the test. The Nationals could not control their emotions, and found themselves with a non stop parade to the penalty box. The 45's took full advantage; they stayed committed as a team, with no one loosing their focus, as the London team took penalty after penalty, Brampton would capitalize on power plays. Final score was 7-0, and a trip to the championship game was set against the home town Heart Élans, who earlier had prevailed in a triple o.t game against West Mall to earn their birth in the Championship game.
The stage is set, the building is packed, air horns are honking and Les Élans fans everywhere are sporting logoed gear, and painted chests; the organ player is blaring out all the classic hockey tunes, T-shirt canons are going off in between periods. The atmosphere was exactly what you could hope for, for the biggest AA hockey game of the year. From the opening faceoff of the 1st period, Brampton displayed the type of aggressive creative play that got them to this game. Winning almost every battle and sticking to their game plan. With just over a minute to go in the 1st, Hearst found themselves on a power play, and with 38 seconds to go in the period, they opened the scoring. The arena went bonkers and the Moose roared, the Hearst fans made sure it was known this was their town. Before they had a chance to return to their seats however, Brampton showed the perseverance that has got them to where they are, and evened the score 15 seconds later, when Zach Lamb in a frenzied attack on the Hearst net, jammed home a Jake Martin rebound. The score is even at 1-1 heading to the 2nd. The second period brought some good back and forth action. Brampton continued to pour it on and Les Élan's, stayed right with them. Brampton found themselves on a power play with just over 2 minutes remaining in the 2nd. Throughout the round robin portion of the tournament Brampton had shown some fantastic control in the offensive zone when on the power play, and this time was no different. Cameron Bell made a nifty cross ice pass to Ryan Racanelli who one timed it home to get the go ahead goal. The score is now 2-1 going into the 3rd. The final frame brought the same action from both teams. The Hearst goaltender made some great stops, and Mark Terry did the same in the Brampton net. This was going to be a tight finish. With just over two and a half minutes remaining in the game the pressure was somewhat eased for Brampton when Alex McMillan head manned the puck to Chris Grenier, Lamb had joined the rush and the 45's were in on a 2 on 1. Greiner created some room by drawing the defenseman over, slid a perfect pass to Lamb who wasted no time burying the puck in the back of the net. Brampton's bench erupted, game is now 3-1, and would remain that score for the final 2 minutes. Triple Crown Accomplished, OHF champions alas!!!
This was the most remarkable finish to an unbelievable season for the Brampton boys that are finishing their minor hockey careers. Being Champions is great, but being good sports and ambassadors for the game, for which they have been recognized for, is the icing on the cake.
Congratulations to the players and coaching staff, and a big thank you to the parents and the Brampton hockey community for all their support!