WC Crusaders win Bell Captial Cup

KANATA – It was an undefeated tournament for the West Carleton Crusaders major atom A team who went 7-0 on the way to winning the largest atom hockey tournament in the world.

That’s right, the Crusaders, in the Major Atom A division, closed out 2019 by winning the 21st Annual Bell Capital Cup last Monday night (Dec. 30) beating le Voisin de Papineau 7-3 in the championship game held at the Canadian Tire Centre.

“It feels great,” Crusaders coach Chad McNeely told West Carleton Online today (Jan. 2). “I’m really happy for the players. They put the work in for this, especially after coming up a little short last year in the championship game.”

The team came out of the preliminary round, which started Saturday, Dec. 28, on top in the 18-team division featuring squads from the Ottawa and Ottawa Valley area, northern United States, western Quebec and beyond.

In the knock-out round the Crusaders beat the Cobden-based Muskrat Voyageurs 7-2 on Sunday (Dec. 29) and the Gloucester Orleans Blues 5-0 to make it to the championship game.

Courtesy Tanya McNeely
Courtesy Tanya McNeely

The Crusaders had the number one powerplay in their division clicking on 44.44 per cent of their opportunities. That helped fuel the Crusaders number two goals per game (4.71) ranking. The Crusaders were pretty good on defence too, allowing the second fewest goals against per game average as well (1.29).

McNeely said the team was strong all weekend long in several aspects of the game.

“Our strengths were our skating, backchecking, effort level and never quit attitude,” the coach said. “Whether we were up in the score or down they just never stopped working hard.”

And that attitude helped them survive a rocky first period in the championship game as the Crusaders were down 2-1 to Papineau after the first period before scoring six of the next seven goals for the tournament win.

The team was led offensively by William Sly who scored 12 goals in seven games and led all Crusaders with 13 points in the tournament. Cabrel Seguin was second with nine points and Lucas Lacharity had seven.

Two goalies split the games evenly with Chase Heuchert and Oliver Drolet each played 105 minutes. Each earned a shutout and Heuchert had a 1.14 goals against average while Drolet had a 1.43 GAA.

Often a highlight of the Bell Capital Cup, is playing teams from different countries. Since the tournament’s inception, more than 11 different countries have been represented at the Bell Capital Cup, including Austria, China, Finland, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Korea and Japan. This year, two teams from Finland and one team from China were part of the international flavour at the tournament.

NHL players who have competed in the Bell Capital Cup in the past include John Tavares, Connor McDavid, and Johnny Gaudreau.

Unfortunately for the Crusaders, this year’s division featured only teams within a few hundred kilometres but coach McNeely said, “the boys got to trade pins with the team from China.”

Coach McNeely said the tournament win is exactly the medicine the team needs heading in to the second half of the Crusaders’ regular season.

“Funny, at the start of the season we sat in second place for two months playing great,” he said. “Then we hit a wall loosing five out of six games dropping to sixth in the standings. We had a little player meeting about our effort level and made a couple of other adjustments to our play and then hit the tournament not really knowing if our adjustments would work, but they sure did. The kids did everything they were asked to.”

The full team roster includes William Sly, Cabrel Seguin, Lucas Lacharity, Filip Spelliscy, Sheldon Casey, Cole Neil, Wyatt McNeely, Graeme FitzGerald, Jacob Reinke, Michael Gilmour, Chase Burns, Taylen Townsend, Landon Dods, William Legault, Everest Dolter, Chase Heuchert and Olivier Drolet.

The West Carleton Crusaders’ hockey club also had a minor peewee A and minor atom A team compete at this year’s Bell Capital Cup.

The minor atom A team went 1-3 in the preliminary round and did not advance to the playoff round. Three players on the team had two goals each to lead the Crusaders in points including Laine Thompson, Liam Stewart and Gabriel Scott. Goalie Ethan Spooner was credited with the team’s lone win – a 3-1 win over the Syracuse Nationals.

The minor peewee A team had a 1-1-2 record in the preliminary round but did not advance as the Gloucester Orleans Blues who also had four points advanced had more total wins. Player Nolan Levesque led the Crusaders peewee team with points getting five assists in four games. Both Owen Dods and Elliott Bondy had three goals and four points for the Crusaders. William Lomas backstopped the Crusaders to its only win and also had a shutout. Aaron Rock was able to earn the Crusaders a tie.