The Walkerton Joy bantam rep hockey team has won the Western Ontario Athletic Association (WOAA) title.
After losing to Mount Forest three games to one in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) playoffs, the local bantams played in a round-robin series with Mitchell, Goderich and Saugeen Shores. The team finished the six-game series with four wins, one loss and one tie, and were seeded in the top spot for the next round.
Walkerton's quarter-final series was against Goderich, and the boys continued their strong play to sweep the series in two games.
Next up in the semi-finals was the Mitchell team, which has beaten Walkerton and most other centers in the past years. The locals travelled to Mitchell for game one and skated to a 4-1 victory.
Brandon Fischer opened the scoring with a low shot from the point, with assists going to Joe Morin and Tyler Rutledge.
Mitchell tied the game early in the second, only to have Morin answer back, assisted by Dustin Mackeand and Fischer. Ben Giesler notched the eventual game winner midway through the third, and Brandon Coghlin scored with four minutes left to seal the 4-1 victory. Assisting on the last two goals were Morin, Fischer, Joe Terwoord and Brandon Barber.
Game two was back in Walkerton where the local reps ended the series with a 4-3 win.
Coghlin opened the scoring early in the first, only to have Mitchell respond with two goals to lead by one.
The second frame proved to be a big one as Tristen Flachs, Morin and Coghlin each netted markers to give the Walkerton team a 4-2 lead heading into the third.
Good team defence and solid goaltending by Jay Cameron held Mitchell to one more goal late in the game and a 4-3 victory and series sweep for Walkerton. Assists went to Morin, Terwoord, Coghlin, Steve Thompson, Marc Dobson and Josh Johnson.
As fate would have it, the bantams were given a chance to avenge their OMHA loss to Mount Forest in the WOAA finals. Game one didn't start out well as the local team found themselves down 6-2 with three minutes left in the second period. Giesler then scored two of his four goals in the last three minutes to give the squad a huge boost going into the third.
Flachs kept the comeback rolling with a goal early in the frame and Andrew Dentinger tied the game at 6-6 with a nice deflect- ion. With all the momentum going their way, Coghlin netted the winner and Giesler added the insurance goal to give Walkerton an 8-6 victory and a one-game lead in the series.
Game two in Mount Forest didn't start well either as the home team scored three first period goals and never looked back in a 6-3 victory, knotting the series at one game apiece. Brandon Barber netted two goals for the visitors, while Giesler added a single. Assists went to Mackeand and Giesler.
With one game left in the season, the local boys were forced to play without Rory O'Hagan (collarbone) and Coghlin (fractured ankle). Playing on home ice, the team was determined to improve on the poor starts in the first two games and tighten up defensively.
Josh Johnson opened the scoring two minutes in with assists to Devon Grubb and Terwoord. Flachs gave the team a two-goal lead after one period, assisted by Dobson.
Not to be outdone, Mount Forest scored one in the second and tied the game at 2-2 with nine minutes left in the third period. Unlike earlier in the year when the bantams had trouble regrouping, they responded with confidence as Morin netted the 3-2 winner two minutes later.
Cameron played a solid game in net and the team celebrated a 2-1 series victory to win the WOAA group playoffs.