Tri-Com Thunder trailed The Gulls of Nova Scotia 3-1 with one minute left to play in the Bantam AAA Atlantics Championship Game at Jack Byrne Arena on Sunday. Then something magical happened. At 58.9 seconds to go, Chase Wellon’s wrist shot got though traffic to close the gap to one. A slashing call to Zach Dean of the Thunder (Tournament MVP) with 30 seconds to play quickly swung the odds back in the Gulls’ favor. But someone forget to tell Jack Connors that it was just about closing time. The tenacious forward fired a quick wrister that eluded Zack Goobie in the Gulls net with 1.6 seconds left in the game.
Connors’ short-handed heroics set the stage for more in overtime as star Thunder forward Ryan Greene stepped out front on Goobie and lodged the biscuit upstairs for the winner with less than two minutes played for a 4-3 victory in front of a very large crowd at JBA.
It was an amazing finish to a superbly played game from both squads. A game in which either team would have been a worthy winner; a game that reminded you hockey is truly a great sport for both players and fans.
Prior to the late game heroics, the Gulls had carried a 2-0 lead into the third on a big power play slapper from Cameron MacDonald (Gulls POG) and a snipe from Camden Pellerin on a well-executed odd man rush.
Thunder started to rumble in the third, scoring early when Zach Dean deflected a Liam Marshall point blast into the Gulls cage. The goal seemed to ignite the Thunder’s attack, but a penalty shot goal by Connor McNamara with just 5:51 remaining left many die-hard local fans thinking the home team might have to settle for silver. A bunch of overjoyed Thunder players simply proved them wrong.
The victory was Newfoundland and Labrador’s 7th gold medal since 1992, when Irving Oil began its 25 year sponsorship run of the event, ending in 2016.
St. John’s Hitmen claimed the bronze medal earlier in the day with a 4-1 decision over the Prince County Warriors from PEI. The Hitmen attack included goals from Jordan Winter, Patrick Hurley (unassisted shortie for the Hitmen POG), Will Williams, and Brett Hudson to delight their hometown fans. Max Chisholm (Warriors POG) scored the lone Warriors marker.