Mar 9, 2014, 11:42 am
by Bill Freeman, EMC Sports March 6/14
The Norwood Bantam A Hornets are going to the OMHA finals for the first time since 2002 after sweeping the Minto Mad Dogs in three straight games capping the series with a commanding 4-1 home win Sunday.
The Hornets will face either South Bruce Otters or Lucan Irish for the Fred C. Waghorne OMHA "C" title. South Bruce leads the series 2-0. It will be the first appearance in a "C" final for a Bantam Hornets team.
The Hornets won the OMHA "DD" title in five games over Matt Read and the Ilderton Jets in 2002. Read, a call-up for the Jets, now plays for the Philadelphia Flyers. The 2002 title ended a 15 year drought for the Bantams who took the 1987 title over the Beverly Bandits; they reached the 1988 final against the Howick Hornets but lost.
Norwood never trailed Minto in their three games opening with a 6-4 road win and a 4-2 victory at home before Sunday's 4-1 win paced by Hayden Baptie's hat trick. Baptie had the hot stick for the Hornets notching nine goals in the series.
"I'm extremely proud of these guys," coach Greg Hartwick said after Sunday's win. "It's been one of the most pleasant teams to coach."
"They've been very consistent, except for the one game up there when we gave up four goals which was unusual," Hartwick said. "Since the beginning of the playoffs (14 games) it's been close-checking and tight games. The kids have been pretty resilient."
Hartwick says this squad brings a total team effort to the ice, which has helped them in their OMHA quest.
"That's been going on for three months; they kind of just settled down and played that way. They're very responsible in all thre zones of the ice and the discipline part of it, too, is (key). Everybody does their own part."
The Hornets are averaging just two minor penalties in a game, he says, "which is pretty good for Bantam."
"That's a big part of our success."
Hartwick has rotated goalies Isaac Dart and Jake Krabbe all season and says in 50 games there's just 40 minutes of playing time separating the two goalies.
In the series clincher, Baptie opened the scoring early in the second period with Minto evening things three minutes later. Two more goals by Baptie three minutes apart gave Norwood a nice cushion. Eric Sicker's goal with 40 seconds left in the second was the deal-maker.
Picking up two assists was Andrew Hembruff with single helpers to Sicker, Nolan Beamish, Dawson Turcotte, and Nicolas Buchanan.