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Sharks defeat top seed Seneca to win Challenge Cup
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Sharks defeat top seed Seneca to win Challenge Cup
The St. Lawrence College Cornwall's Sharks hockey team wrapped up the year with a triumphant 3-2 overtime victory over Number 1 seed Seneca to win the 2011 Challenge Cup in Oshawa.
PHOTO CREDIT - SLC Athletics

Cornwall - Mar. 29, 2011 - The St. Lawrence College Cornwall men’s hockey team finished the season on a high note Friday with a triumphant 3-2 overtime win over top-ranked Seneca to capture gold at the 2011 Challenge Cup in Oshawa.

The overtime victory is the third-consecutive year the Challenge Cup has been decided in extra time.

"To complete the season as we did with a 19-6 record in itself would define a successful season for our team,” co-head coach Mike Pettinella said. “To qualify for this tournament, compete the way we did then win the final game against the top seeded team in the province - it's a storybook ending. We're so proud of this group, never in 11 years of coaching have we been able to experience something like this.”

The Sharks, who earned the No. 7 seed heading into the tournament, drew No. 6 George Brown and No. 10 Fleming in pool play to start.

SLC Cornwall buried a trio of goals in the first period to go up 3-0 on George Brown heading into the first intermission, with Brent Lariviere potting the first two goals less than minute apart with Justin McCourt, Justin Villeneuve and Dominick Coyle tallying assists. The Sharks were outscored in the second period, but maintained a 4-2 lead on a goal from Villeneuve. Marc Andre Fournier scored the final goal of the game to skate to a 5-2 win.

Fleming handed the Sharks a 1-0 setback in the second game, even though SLC Cornwall outplayed the Knights in all other areas except the scoresheet. The 1-1 record in the preliminaries earned the Sharks the No. 3 spot in Pool B, earning a quarterfinal matchup with No. 4 Trent, the second seed out of Pool A.

Trent grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first, but SLC Cornwall’s Thomas Lang and Brock Bissonette scored the next two goals to put the Sharks up 2-1 heading in the third period. Trent tied the game at 2-2 with 9:25 left in the frame, but Shawn Ladouceur teamed up with Fournier and Lang to push the Sharks back in front less than a minute later. Lariviere gave SLC Cornwall some much needed breathing room burying his third goal of the tournament with 5:05 left to play. The Excaliburs snuck in a late goal, but the Sharks held strong for a 4-3 win to advance to the semi-final against No. 8 Georgian-Barrie.

After a scoreless first period with Georgian-Barrie, McCourt broke the tie converting a pass from Ladouceur to go ahead 1-0. With 22 seconds left on the clock in the second period, Lariviere found the back of the net to increase the lead to 2-0. The Sharks poured on the offence in the final frame and Coyle tallied the two final goals for a dominating 4-0 victory to soar to the championship final.

In the final, SLC Cornwall met Seneca, the tournament’s overall Number 1 seed, and fell behind 1-0 just before time expired in the first period. Another hard fought period ensued, but with less than two minutes remaining in the frame, Villaneuve and Kevin Veilleux netted back-to-back goals for the 2-1 lead heading into the final period. Seneca found a way past the Sharks’ strong defence to even the game at 2-2 in the last three minutes to send the game to overtime.

In the extra time, the Sharks pulled off the upset with 1:59 left when Troy Sinfield buried home the game-winner, propelling the Sharks to their first-ever Challenge Cup title. Goaltender Riley Bond played all five games for the Sharks between the pipes.

“This championship has been our focus since we qualified back in November,” co-head coach Sean Boulerice commented. “We tried to be a better team with each and every event. It’s not like we didn’t face any adversity throughout the season, but every time there was a bump in the road, we tried to overcome it and learn from it. This group of guys bought in to our plan and became a team in the true sense of the word.”

SLC Cornwall automatically qualified for the 2011 Challenge Cup, the Ontario College Committee on Campus Recreation (OCCCR) most prestigious event in the sport, after winning the first tournament of the season at the Canadore Invite (Nov. 4). The Sharks rolled through competition with a 4-0 record to take the gold.

“There was not one individual agenda last week in Oshawa, it was all about the team. They left everything they had on the ice. Mike (Pettinella) and I are so proud of their accomplishments. I will never forget the way they fought to reach the final and then to cap it all off with an overtime win (after killing off a penalty) against the number one rated team in the province is just a scenario that gives me chills every time I think about it,” Boulerice continued. “These guys wore the SLC jersey with pride and I am especially thrilled for our graduating players who will never have the opportunity to put that jersey on their back again. Our theme all year has been “Making Memories,” and this is a memory that is not going to fade away anytime too soon.”

The Sharks finish the season 19-6, including two gold medals and a consolation final victory.


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