SUMMER 2010 PROVINCIAL QUALIFIER GAME:
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Fri Aug 27th 2010 2:01pm
YOUNG CANADIANS LOSE TO MORE EXPERIENCED KNIGHTS!
By finishing first, in the most important season of the year, the Young Canadians earned the right to play a one-game qualifier vs. the Knights, who finished 1st in one of the top Tier 4 divisions, Molson Ultra. The winner would go on to the Provincial Championship in London. The loser would go home to ponder what couldâ€™ve been.
In typical YC fashion, they would score the first goal just over 1:00 minute into the game. â€œUnthinkableâ€ Dan Ascenzi would bat a Peter â€œJesterâ€ Vicente pass, out of mid-air, past Knights goalie Mike Caporale. The duo have gelled admirably since being put together in Niagara, usually assisting on each otherâ€™s goals. The lead would last 5:00 minutes. Mike Fiorillo, followed by Andrew Sisi put the Knights ahead with 2 quick goals, :21 seconds apart. Vicente would tie things up on the power play, when his point shot beat a screened Caporale.
The game would be decided in the final 4:00 minutes of the 1st half. At the 3:43 mark, Frank Pitella scored a PP goal, followed by an even strength goal at 2:20 and another one with just :25 seconds left in the half. The last one was the killer. It tore through the hearts of the players & fans. You could see the life drain from the bench at that moment. â€œUnfortunately, it was at that moment that I realized we wouldnâ€™t come back,â€ said Coach Da Ponte. â€œIf we were down by two going into the 2nd, I think we have a chance. But that last minute goal totally killed our emotions. Any momentum we wouldâ€™ve had in the 2nd half, died there.â€
Da Ponteâ€™s point was proven as the YC scored a PP goal, less than 1:00 minute into the 2nd half. But due to the late 1st half goal, the spread was still 2 goals. The Knights would finish off their scoring for the night at 9:56 of the 2nd. Down by 3 goals, the YC began to unravel. The Verardi brothers were involved in a scrum at 7:27, leading to both benches yelling & cursing at each other, as well as a Knightsâ€™ fan being ejected for continually taunting the YC bench & fans. The team had lost its composure and any chance of coming back.
In the end, the Young Canadians lost 6-3 to a very good team. The Knights were able to endure an early flurry of chances and eventually imposed their game plan on the YC. In what was considered the biggest game of the young franchiseâ€™s existence, the young & inexperienced YC players wilted under the pressure. Perhaps they read too much into the scouting report, or were over-confident. Either way, Coach Da Ponte hopes an important lesson has been learned. â€œI consider this to be a huge missed opportunity for this young group of players. It took me 6 seasons before I qualified for a provincial championship. They had a chance to do it in only their 2nd season of menâ€™s league hockey. I am fully confident that they will reach this point again. My hope is that they remember the feeling of losing this game and will do everything in their power not to let it happen again.â€
SUMMER 2010 NIAGARA FALLS CHALLENGE CUP RECAP:
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Tue Aug 24th 2010 3:51pm
YOUNG CANADIANS RUN OUT OF GAS IN QUARTERS!
If the goal every season is to do better than the year before, the Young Canadians accomplished that at this yearâ€™s Niagara Falls tournament. Last year, they were completely overwhelmed by their Tier 3 opponent in the Elimination game, losing 7-0. That result had rendered what had been 2 successful round-robin games, irrelevant. Overall, the experience the team gained in their inaugural entry into the tournament, would be put to good use this year. This yearâ€™s tournament was slightly altered to become more competitive. In the past Tier 3 and 4 teams would have to face each other, with the Tier 3 teams always coming out on top. Now, the 2 levels were split up into separate mini-tournaments, giving every Tier 4 team a shot at winning.
In game #1, the Young Canadians faced the Tickled Toads, a team that was obviously there just to enjoy the Niagara Falls nightlife. They had lost 8-3 on the Friday night and were in for more of the same versus the YC. Anthony â€œAnthontâ€ Verardi got the YC on the board just :53 seconds into the game. He was followed by Michael â€œRocket Richardâ€ Petruccelli, Angelo â€œMVPâ€ Verardi & Anthony â€œD-Manâ€ DiMarco before Michael Stipetic stopped the bleeding with a goal for the Toads. The blitzkrieg would continue early in the 2nd, when Peter â€œThe Studâ€ Vicente scored 1:38 into the half. Michael â€œNo Awardâ€ Verardi scored again, before Vicente added a short-handed tally for his 2nd of the game. The YC had outshot the Toads 24-8. After the smoke had cleared, the final score was 7-1. The final goal by Vicente proved to be an important one since it gave the YC an advantage in the goal differential tie-breaker going into their next game.
In game #2, the YC faced another 1st place team (in their league), the Wildcats. Since they had won 8-3 the night before, the winner of this contest would finish 1st in the group & move on to the Elimination game. Once again, the YC got off to their trademark quick start when Anthony Verardi scored :50 seconds into the game. But this time, they faced stiffer competition. The Wildcats put up a much tougher defense than the Toads. Near the end of the 1st half, with Joe â€œGoonâ€ Giannotti in the box for high sticking, Eric Dayan tied the game. The Wildcats would turn the tables on the YC when they scored 1:25 into the half. 3:00 minutes later, they scored again to take a 3-1 lead.
The YC were facing adversity for the 1st time and despite throwing everything they had at goalie Benny Venditti, they could not score until an unlikely hero, playing out of position, got one on the power play. Anthony DiMarco, after repeated requests to be placed in front on the power play, got his wish and repaid coach Da Ponte for his decision by scoring. â€œI kept telling Gratz to put me in front on the power play, but he never did. Maybe he got fed up that it wasnâ€™t working and gave me a chance,â€ said a jubilant DiMarco after the game. Buoyed by the 2nd goal, the YC kept the pressure on and it paid off when â€œUnthinkableâ€ Daniel Ascenzi slotted home a rebound from captain Brian â€œ4 Teamsâ€ Da Ponteâ€™s point shot. A tie game would place the Young Canadians in 1st, due to the aforementioned tie-breaker. The Wildcats pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, but Chris â€œPashqualâ€ Dâ€™Ascanio shut the door. The YC finished 1st in their group for the second year in a row.
In the Saturday night Elimination game, the YC would face a familiar foe. Due to a quirk in the schedule, the Winner of Group â€˜Gâ€™ (YC) would face the #2 ranked wildcard team, which turned out to be the, Wildcats. With the 2 teams having already faced each other, there was a sense of familiarity to the game. Once again, it was the YC scoring early when Seymour â€œWoooshâ€œ Korman got his 1st of the tournament at 12:21 of the half. Simon â€œNewlywedâ€ Khaouli, who was the gameâ€™s 1st star, scored the eventual game-winner at 7:03, when he finished off a play that he started in the corner. After taking the ball behind the net, from one side to the other, he dropped it off to Vicente who passed it to Ascenzi. Khaouli got the pass back and sniped it top cheese past a helpless Venditti. Steve Botelho made it close at 6:29, but the YC would not be denied a victory as Ascenzi got a PP goal with 3:22 left in the game. With the win, the YC have advanced to the Â¼ finals and surpassed their performance from last year.
In the Sunday morning Â¼ final game, the YC showed that they still have a long way to go as a team. With more than half of the team getting to bed after 3:00 am, the fatigue was obvious in their play. They did not have the jump & energy shown in the previous 3 games. For the 1st time in the tournament, it was their opponent who opened the scoring. At 11:26, T. Marrocco scored the only goal the Outlaws would need. The YC held a slight shot advantage in the 1st half, but that wouldnâ€™t help them prevent another goal. With just over 2:00 minutes remaining in the half, Anthony DiMarco would be called for interference. Just as he was settling in, Dayton Sopha put the game away for good. In the 2nd half, it was clear to the multitude of fans in attendance that the YC would not be making a miraculous comeback. Firing only 3 shots on Outlawsâ€™ goalie Mike Dos Anjos, just wouldnâ€™t cut it. All coach Da Ponte can hope for is that his troops have learned their lesson about staying fresh for tournament play. You canâ€™t possibly perform at your best on just 4-5 hours sleep.
SUMMER 2010 REGULAR SEASON RECAP:
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Wed Jul 28th 2010 4:01pm
YOUNG CANADIANS WIN FIRST REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP!
The Young Canadians completed an incredible regular season on Sunday, when they beat the Toros 2-1 to finish with a 12-2 record. Their only 2 losses came against the Wet Bandits in the 1st and 8th games of the year (when half the team was missing). By finishing first in the most important season of the year, the YC have now earned the right to play a one-game qualifier vs. the Knights from the Molson Ultra division, to see who will be going to the Tier 4 All-Ontarioâ€™s in London. This game will be the ultimate test for a young franchise in only itâ€™s second summer of menâ€™s league competition.
The summer season got off to a rocky start when the YC lost their first game, 3-1 to the Wet Bandits. Afterwards, in the dressing room, tempers flared and both captain Brian & Coach Graciano Da Ponte walked out visibly upset. The post-game press conference was dire and Da Ponte sounded like he had coached his last game. He would only say that he was very disappointed in the teamâ€™s conduct and that they would have to iron things out before the next game. In the following game, the players arrived early for a pre-game meeting. Everyone put their issues on the table & worked things out. What happened after this game was simply amazing. The team pulled together and transformed itself into a more cohesive unit that supported each other on every shift.
The team reeled off 6 straight wins before they were stopped by the Wet Bandits again. In that game, half the regulars were missing due to a family function. With a short bench, the YC fought hard but succumbed to a 3-1 loss. But they would get right back on the saddle in the following game, starting another 6 game winning streak to end the season.
Sandwiched into the regular season, were 2 tournaments that the YC entered. The first was the Eastern â€˜Câ€™ Regional Qualifier in Oshawa on May 28-30. The other was the annual Niagara Falls Challenge Cup on July16-18. The YC qualified for the Oshawa tournament by winning their 2009 Fall division playoffs. They had to face other division playoff winners from the Fall, Winter & Spring leagues. Although, they didnâ€™t win a game, their performance in the final round robin game earned kudos from their opponent, the Tier â€˜3â€™ Hurricanes. The lessons learned from this tournament, would only help them in Niagara Falls. The YC wanted to at least get as far as they did last year, when they made it to the elimination game on Saturday night. Not only did they get that far this year, but they made it one round further into the Â¼ finals. Unfortunately, they ran out of gas against the Outlaws and lost 2-0. Overall, the tournament provided many thrills and heartache for the fans that came out to watch them. As with any team, the goal next year will be to get to the Â½ finals.
A tired YC team clinched 1st place on the Sunday of the Niagara tournament, when coach Graciano â€œPlay the Ballâ€ Da Ponte, stepped in between the pipes to give regular starter, Chris â€œGAAâ€ Dâ€™Ascanio, a much-needed break. What should have been a momentous occasion, ended up being a mellow celebration as the team was too tired to party. With 1st place sewn up, the YC beat the Toros 2-1 in the final regular season game that turned very chippy. The Toros, who completely fell apart at the worst time of the season, let their frustrations out and let the game slip away.
With a 1st round bye in the playoffs, the Young Canadians will now turn their attention to the All-Ontarioâ€™s qualifier against the Knights from the Molson Ultra division on Thursday, August 5 @ 9:30pm (Rinx). If they can win this game, they will gain entry into their first Provincial Championship tournament. This game will be the culmination of many years of hard work by Coach Da Ponte to put together a team that can compete at this level. It took many years and lots of player changeover, but Da Ponte finally feels that he has the right combination of players to do it.
SPRING 2010: Â¼ FINAL GAME #2 â€“ YOUNG CANADIANS ELIMINATE SSB!
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Tue Apr 27th 2010 4:11pm
In what can only be described by fans as one of the best penalty killing performances they had ever seen, the Young Canadians killed 7 out of 8 power plays, including three 5-on-3â€™s, enroute to a 4-1 â€œsmashingâ€ of the Super Smash Bros. The score may have been higher, if the game continued to be played 5-on-5, where the YC had a distinct advantage, but referees Sal Pupo & Mike Vieira decided to punish the YC for minor infractions and not their counterparts. Once again, coach Graciano â€œOld Canadianâ€ Da Ponte was back between the pipes for a 2nd straight game as starter Chris â€œBack-upâ€ Dâ€™Ascanio continued to soak up the sun in Cuba.
On this night, the SSB had no answer for Da Ponte, who was spectacular in stopping 22 of 23 shots, including an incredible glove save when the score was still 0-0. The ball was passed from the corner to Jesse Salerno in the slot. His shot was pegged for the back of the net but Da Ponte dove across with his glove to snag a sure goal out of the air. It seemed like that save energized the bench and shortly after, Simon â€œBulldozerâ€ Khaouli, received a pass from Daniel â€œThe Doctorâ€ Ascenzi on the rush and beat SSB goalie Alessio Sblendorio over the shoulder. 3:00 minutes later, Angelo â€œThe Bulldogâ€ Verardi, took the offensive zone face-off and won it forward. After beating his defender to the ball, Verardi back-handed it past a stunned Sblendorio to take a 2-0 lead. Some YC fans were still a little weary of a 2-0 lead against the SSB, as their team had broken down before, but it was not to be.
Mario â€œThe Special Oneâ€ Frassinelli, who came back from an ankle injury incurred last season, ensured there would be no comeback when he scored the teamâ€™s 3rd goal, assisted once again by Ascenzi. His goal came at a good time, since the penalty parade started right after. First, Ang. Verardi was nailed for interference off the face-off, then Peter â€œBig Manâ€ Vicente was given an unbelievable 6:00 minutes in combined penalties. Somehow SSB player Eric Slawson managed to draw the penalties, even though it was his stick that was in Vicente stomach. Having already killed four penalties, the YC defenders were called upon again to kill of another 5-on-3. After accidentally putting the ball over the boards on a clearing attempt, Frassinelli made up for it when he challenged Slawson at the point, stripping the ball away, resulting in a breakaway. Sblendorio came out to play the ball but didnâ€™t reach it in time and was left with no choice but to drag Frassinelli down. As he fell, Frassinelli pushed the ball forward and ended up sweeping into the empty net from his stomach. It was an incredible play that will live on in the teamâ€™s highlight reel.
The SSB would eventually get a power play goal, when Slawsonâ€™s attempted cross-crease pass deflected in off Da Ponteâ€™s inner leg. A dejected Da Ponte could only look up to the heavens and wonder what happened. â€œI didnâ€™t expect him to put the ball on net from that angle,â€ he said. â€œHe started to come out from the corner and I thought he would try to cut into the slot, but he just fired it through the crease and it hit the inside of my left pad and went in. I was really hoping for a shutout. It wouldâ€™ve been the icing on the cake. It just goes to show you that if you lose your concentration for a split-second, anything can happen.â€
Despite the animosity between both teams, nobody was kicked out and the game ended without incident. The Young Canadians now have a winning streak of their own against their rivals and hope to continue it next time they meet. But in the immediate future, the YC must now prepare for their semi-final match-up vs. the Rebels, another team they struggle against. Game #1 is on Sunday, May 2 @ 11:00 pm (Rinx).
SPRING 2010: Â¼ FINAL GAME #1 â€“ YOUNG CANADIANS FINALLY BEAT NEMESIS!
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Mon Apr 26th 2010 11:37am
Long suffering Young Canadiansâ€™ fans finally had something to cheer about when, for the first time in 10 games, the Young Canadians finally beat the Super Smash Bros., 5-2. The fact that it was game #1 of the Spring 2010 quarter-finals, made it even sweeter. There was a good vibe in the dressing room before the game, as the YC players all felt confident that this would be the game to break the streak. The icing on the cake was coach Graciano â€œOld Manâ€ Da Ponte stepping in for his first playoff game for the team he coaches. Da Ponte was subbing in for regular goalie, Chris â€œGo Phillyâ€ Dâ€™Ascanio, who is currently vacationing in Cuba.
Things did not look good for the SSB as they only had 8 players and regular defenseman, Alessio Sblendorio in net. But they have proven in the past against the YC, that they can win no matter what adversity they faced. Despite an early flurry, the SSB could not get one by Da Ponte and shortly after, the YC would take the lead when Mike â€œLady Byngâ€ Verardi scored 3:00 minutes into the game, with a beautiful wrister over Sblendorioâ€™s shoulder. Verardi benefited from having new line mate, Simon â€œHulkâ€ Khaouli, who used his considerable size & strength to create room on the floor. Less than 2:30 minutes later, another odd man rush resulted in Joe â€œYouTubeâ€ Giannotti getting his 1st of the post-season. Angelo â€œThe Calm Oneâ€ Verardi & Seymour â€œHeavy Breatherâ€ Korman worked the 2-on-1 perfectly with Korman getting a shot off that Sblendorio stopped. But Giannotti, who jumped into the rush, was there to poke home the rebound. â€œThe guys can make fun of my lack of goal production all they want, but when it comes to the playoffs, I always come through with a timely one,â€ said Giannotti, whose infamous Niagara hit was played on TSN.
The YC took a 2-0 lead into the 2nd half, but they have lost those leads to the SSB before. Coach Da Ponte wanted to make sure his team kept the pressure on in the 2nd half. The result was a goal :30 seconds into the half. M. Verardi scored his 2nd of the game in similar fashion to the first. He passed to Khaouli, Khaouli passed it back to Verardi and he put it into the wide open cage. The SSB pulled to within two as Jesse Salerno beat his defender in the slot and then Da Ponte with his patented back-hander. â€œI shouldâ€™ve been ready for his shot,â€ said Da Ponte. â€œHe always goes back hand. Itâ€™s his signature shot.â€
That goal followed by some hard work in the offensive zone, gave the YC fans visions of past collapses, but Andrew â€œSkippyâ€ Ariganello put everyone at ease, when he scored the teamâ€™s 4th goal. It was another wrist shot that found itâ€™s way past a screened Sblendorio. As both teams worked towards the eventual conclusion, the concern now was the â€œextra-curricularâ€ activity that might get players kicked out. There were several scrums but none resulted in penalties until 2:35 of the 2nd. After being bumped into the boards by Sameer Sayed, M. Verardi responded in kind but was given a punch to the back of the head for his troubles. A scrum ensued, resulting in roughing minors to Sayed, Giannotti & Ang. Verardi. Brian Kastelic scored on the ensuing power play to make it 4-2, but that would be the last goal the SSB would score on this night. Da Ponte capped of his 1st YC playoff win with a sliding, cross-crease pad save on a one-timer, which allowed the YC to counter-attack, giving regular season scoring leader, Anthony â€œGo Sharksâ€ Verardi his 1st goal of the playoffs with :12 seconds left.
Unfortunately, YC defenseman Adam â€œSliceâ€ Casinelli was not able to enjoy his teamâ€™s victory, as he left the game early in the 1st half after his upper lip was cut open when he took a high stick to the face. Both referees declared the high stick was a result of the SSB playerâ€™s follow-through, not a malicious intent to injure. Casinelli was sitting on the floor bleeding and eventually left the game for the hospital to get stitches.
The Young Canadians were finally able to get a huge monkey off their backs with this victory over a depleted SSB line-up. Players were getting a little arrogant, but coach Da Ponte reminded them that they still had one more game to play. They must now finish off their rivals in game #2 on Monday, April 26 @ 7:30 pm (Rinx).