The midget A Stettler Legion Blues appeared to be bound for overtime, but they opted for showtime instead.
Logan Davidson’s goal with 1.9 seconds left in the third period gave Stettler a 4-3 victory over the Edson Legion Sabres in the final of the provincial midget B hockey championship Sunday evening at Provost.
“It was almost like a movie,” said Blues captain Parker Cassidy, who took a shot in the dying seconds that Davidson redirected past Edson goaltender Jesse Thompson.
“I was certain it was going to overtime. I think it was around 22 seconds left, and there was a faceoff in our end … I saw the clock and I just threw the puck at the net with a shot from along the boards, and Logan Davidson tipped it in with two seconds left.
“We don’t usually do the thing where after you score the goal, you go to the bench and tap hands with everyone, but we did so for that one — probably the most important goal all year.”
It was the second straight 4-3 victory for Stettler, which knocked off the Devon Drillers in the semifinal midday Sunday.
After going 3-0 and outscoring their opponents 25-7 in pool play, the Blues ran into a couple of tough tests in the playoff round of the eight-team tournament.
“We were in probably the weaker of the two pools, with the three teams that we were playing against (in the preliminary round),” said Cassidy, a graduating defenceman and son of head coach Matt Cassidy.
“Edson and Provost and Devon were three of the better teams, and they were all in the (other) pool.”
In the gold-medal game, Stettler also got goals from Riley Anderson, Kieran Rost and affiliated player Levi Fisher. Anderson, Davidson, Jacques du Toit and David Hanton each had two points in the final, and Devon Woelk blocked 21 shots in the Blues’ net.
Zack Wild, with two, and Jared Strang scored the Edson goals, while Thompson registered 30 stops.
It was 1-1 after the first period and 3-3 after the second.
Edson reached the final with a 5-1 victory over Bow Island in the Sunday morning semifinal.
Davidson’s second-period goal stood as the winner in Stettler’s semifinal victory over Devon, which netted the lone third-period goal to cut the gap to 4-3. Davidson’s four-point game included assists on all three Micah Croker goals, while Anderson added two assists.
Wil Rymes, with two, and Rick Chorzempa netted the Devon goals.
Jordan McCallum made 21 saves in the Stettler net. Sydney Williams had 24 stops for Devon.
Capped by the gold-medal finish, there was plenty of drama for the Blues as the Stettler students kicked off their March break in style.
“It was crazy,” said graduating defenceman Brogan Cassidy, a first cousin of Parker Cassidy. “Scoring in those last two seconds, that was amazing.
“Especially since we won the league and got another banner (as the Zone 7 champions), we got three banners this year. It’s pretty good for the last year of midget.”
The Blues won the Tier 1 midget title in the North Central Minor Hockey Association just four days before they began play at the provincials.
They believe they made the right choice to vie for the Alberta midget B crown, instead of going midget A.
“I liked where we were at this year,” said Parker Cassidy. “It was a fun tournament.
“We still had good competition. That Edson team was really strong.”
Brogan Cassidy concurred, noting that Stettler’s playoff-round opponents were worthy tests.
“We were in an easier pool than them,” he said. “We played those guys, and they were a lot faster and bigger, but we managed to beat them. We just played our game.”
It was a cohesive group of Stettler players, a few of whom also played with the Legion Blues team that missed the medal round at the midget A provincials last season.
“We had an awesome bunch,” Brogan Cassidy said of the 2012-13 edition. “This is my favourite year for midget, I think. Everyone got along. It was good.”
Complementing that group were a couple of forwards, Fisher and Zack Werbowesky, called up from the Stettler midget B team.
“Levi and Zack came up and they were a big help,” said captain Parker Cassidy.
“Levi scored a goal (in the championship) game, and I think Zack got two or three on the weekend. They were a big help. They had a great weekend, and I think they had fun.”
Although he was an integral part of the Blues all season, Tyler Stewart wasn’t eligible for provincial playoffs because of his age. He supported his teammates just the same.
“He came up and watched,” Parker Cassidy said of Stewart.
“He was always in the dressing room between periods, yelling at us if we did something wrong.”
Stewart, Anderson, McCallum and Parker Cassidy were also teammates with the 2011 provincial high school football champion Stettler Wildcats.
The Stettler-based Chill bantam team that won a provincial championship in 2010 included seven members of this season’s Hockey Alberta midget B champions — Anderson, Croker, Davidson, McCallum, Woelk, and Brogan and Parker Cassidy.
“We were all jumping around,” Brogan Cassidy said of the Blues’ reaction Sunday after the late goal gave them gold.
“We were all thinking it (was going to overtime), and then we just got that last shot on net and it went in.”
The provincial-host Provost Blades lost to Stettler in the Zone 7 championship earlier this month. In the first game of that two-game series, Brogan Cassidy suffered a concussion that sidelined him temporarily.
“I took a nasty run into the boards head-first,” he said. “I didn’t know I had (a concussion). I played the second game. I probably shouldn’t have, but …
“I went to the doctor and they told me to take it easy. So I took the weekend off and didn’t play any games, and started feeling better.”
He returned in time for the league championship series, which saw Stettler sweep Rimbey in two straight games to begin a stretch of seven games in eight days.
“It was fine,” Brogan Cassidy said of his comeback from headaches. “Like, this last weekend, I didn’t notice it.”
Hockey fans who made the trip through a nasty snowstorm en route to Provost certainly noticed the Stettler contingent, which lived up to its billing early in the tournament and finished in dramatic fashion.
The Blues listened to their coach — and in Parker Cassidy’s case — his father.
“He always wanted us to be playing it hard, because you play a team that’s not as strong and you almost get complacent,” said the Stettler captain. “And then, it would be hard to turn the switch on when you needed to play well. We played hard.
“Our first game, we didn’t play all that well, and then we got a good talking to.”
The Blues came to play, as they say, Sunday. Between the playoff games, they rested as best they could.
“We had checked out of our hotel, but they let us come back and we waited in the lobby,” Parker Cassidy said. “We sat on the couches in the lobby in the hotel.”
Stettler 6 Bow Island 3 — Davidson collected two goals and an assist, while Stefan du Toit assisted on each of the Blues’ first three goals. Anderson, Rost and both Cassidys — Parker and Brogan — scored the other Stettler goals. Woelk made 27 saves.
Stettler 9 Sexsmith 2 — In their second game Friday, the Blues got two goals each from Davidson and Fisher, and singles from Rost, Croker, Werbowesky, Justin McKenzie and Parker Cassidy. Anderson added three assists, and McCallum tended goal.
Stettler 10 Olds 2 — Rost and Brogan Cassidy each tallied twice as Stettler outshot Olds 54-14 in the Blues’ lone game Saturday. Werbowesky, Hanton, Anderson, Fisher, Chase McGonigal and Stefan du Toit netted the other Stettler goals. Woelk was in the Blues’ net.