Atoms, Bantams seek OHMA titles on the road Saturday
By Stewart Grant
Way up in the Canadian Shield tomorrow, two Rock teams hope to dig their way to OMHA Gold. At 2:45 pm, the McDonald’s Independent Grocer Atoms take on the Midland Centennials in game 5 of their best-of-five series. Thirty minutes later and 100 km down the road in Bracebridge, the ANAF Bantams resume their series against the South Muskoka Bears in another do-or-die game 5 matchup.
It’s unfortunate that St. Marys fans couldn’t pull off the ultimate northern Ontario road trip by first watching the Atoms and then driving to Bracebridge to cheer on the Bantams, but the start times are just too close together to make it possible.
Both St. Marys teams have shown grit by rallying to tie their respective series. Last Sunday, the Atom BBs took game 4 by a score of 3-1 in front of a big hometown crowd.
For the Bantam BBs, they look to retain the momentum achieved way back on the weekend of March 11-12 when they won both games in St. Marys to even their series with South Muskoka. Recently I had the chance to speak with head coach Brandon Boyd about the experience thus far with this championship squad:
SG: What has made this Bantam BB team so successful this season?
BB: The key to our success has simply been the group dynamic that exists with these boys. They have the skillset, the mindset, and the cohesion that does not come around very often collectively. Not only do they make coaching fun, they make it easy.
SG: How has the team grown and developed over the season?
BB: An area that saw improvement from the start of the year was our ability to buy into our team concept. These boys had expectations going into the season, and many expected to breeze through. We actually had a 5 game losing streak early on. After finding the right combinations, and players buying into their roles, success followed with a 28 game unbeaten streak and Silver Stick Championship.
SG: Any thoughts heading into Game 5 in Bracebridge?
BB: Having played South Muskoka five times this year, we have learned that they are a strong, well-coached team. In their small Bracebridge barn, they play a simple dump-and-chase style and they wear us down with their size. Back home we were allowed to use our speed and puck possession game, evident in our two home wins. Going back up there for game 5 we will adjust to their surface, neutralize their big guns, and hope to capitalize on our rebounds. We will sure miss the wild St. Marys fans, but we’re looking forward to a hard fought battle