Stoney Creek Minor Hockey Association’s bantam AE Warriors recently skated their way to a community milestone.
The Warriors beat Orangeville 4-3 in the annual A/E International Silver Stick Finals Tournament championship Jan. 13 in Pelham to clinch the title for the first time in Stoney Creek’s history.
“It was a very, very proud moment; it was quite amazing,” head coach Greg Gillis said. “We had a couple of easy games with some of the American teams and then faced two tough games in the semifinal and final. There was quite a crowd there watching the games, we had some representation from our league there as well and it was just a very clean, very hard fought game, so it was quite an accomplishment.”
The International Silver Stick Finals Tournament featured teams from across North America.
The Warriors earned their place in the championship after defeating Brampton 4-2 in the semifinals and Naperville 5-0 in the quarter-finals. The team also beat Cadillac, Mich. 8-0, Cleveland 7-2 and Dorchester 2-1 in round-robin action.
The Warriors qualified for the International Silver Stick Finals Tournament after winning the event’s New Tecumseth Regional Tournament last month in Alliston, where the team finished 4-0-1.
Gillis said the Warrior’s success at the finals tournament can be attributed to “solid team play.”
“We really have and utilize three solid lines,” he said. “It seemed to be that every game that we played, every line and the team just collectively got better as they went along, including the goalies. We alternate goalies, so both our goalies are quite good.”
With the win, the Stoney Creek bantam AE Warriors also will see their named added to an International Silver Stick Finals Tournament plaque displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Each year, after all division Silver Stick finals tournaments are completed, a plaque is placed in the hall of fame display case listing the team names of all the champions for that year.
“That’s a huge, significant accomplishment,” said Gillis, adding the Silver Stick Finals Tournament champions are the only minor hockey teams to get their name in the Hockey Hall of Fame. “As we’ve progressed as a team through the years, we’ve got better and better. This is just one more icing on the cake; actually, this has probably made our year.”
Stoney Creek Minor Hockey Association director of rep operations Frank Mercuri said he couldn’t be more proud of the bantam AE Warriors’ accomplishment.
“It’s a great feat for the kids, parents, coaching staff and everybody,” he said. “This is an experience that the kids will never forget. This is something they’ll fondly remember for the rest of their lives.”