Two of the top teams in the District 3 faced off today at Maple Grove Community Center. OMGHA with an impressive 13-2 record ranked #2 by the staff of YHH and Armstrong Cooper with a 10-3 record ranked #14 in the NOW rankings by YHH. Each team had a lot to play for today both on paper and on the rink.
The game started fast with OMG taking control early with a goal on the first shift by OMG defenseman Connor Kelley who scored on wrist shot from the point to give his team the early 1-0 lead. Kelley is an
impressive player can move the puck and controls the play on nearly every shift. Credit the OMG forwards on this goal who kept the puck alive in the AC zone. Later in the period with AC “hanging around” OMG got a grinder goal in front of the AC net. First “Bitty Brother” Justin Janicke got the puck to the net on a wrap around attempt that was foiled by AC goalie John Harding but was eventually hammered home by #17 Ty Ballinger for the 2-0 lead. Editor’s note: the goal was credited to #7 Ben Leafblad, but photos show Ballinger was the real goal scorer. At the end of the first period OMG lead 2-0, with a commanding lead in shots 9-3.
In the second period it was more OMG. They carried the play with great passing and puck movement. This team has a great hockey IQ, they play great team hockey and make very good decisions with the puck. Taking nothing away from AC they worked hard the entire game. Early in the second the OMG super line of Oakland, Faber and Marraccini got into the act. On a pass from his two linemates superstar Brock Faber tickled the twine to make it 3-0 OMG after 2.
In the third period AC head coach Jon Campion got his troops fired up for the third period. Telling his players not to give up and keep skating. They listened to their coach and really played hard in the third giving OMG all they could handle. AC started to play with a sense of urgency, getting shots and scoring chances in bunches. Little number 8, Zack Simon (a former OMG standout) led the charge with several nice plays in the neutral zone and deep in the OMG zone. For a majority of the third period as both teams tired, the scoring chances were plenty for both sides, but neither could convert past strong defense and good goaltending from both Harding and Olson. Late in the third “Bitty Brother” Kyle Kukkonen was called for Hooking. Armstrong attacked the OMG net with a couple great chances to no avail. Eventually OMG got relief and JT House scored from the left slot on over the shoulder of Harding short handed to give OMG a 4-0 lead. A lead that would hold up for OMG. Final score 4-0. Give credit to AC they played hard the entire game, giving OMG’s high powered attack very few great scoring chances and odd man rushes. They should be proud of their game today and will have a lot to build on heading into the second half of the season.
Today’s standout player was number 7 Ben Leafblad for OMGHA. Ben is a high motor kid who strong on his skates and great with his stick. It just seemed like today was his day. He won several battles in the corners and neutral zone. On top of that unlike most kids with great physical speed he played very smart almost as the game was being played in slow motion for him.
After the game, YHH caught up with Ben as he showed off the team’s acknowledement of his hard work by giving him “The Belt” a WWE styled wrestling belt, presumably to the teammate who worked the hardest. This award was well deserved. Good luck Ben the rest of the year.