Toronto Patriots Top Soo Thunderbirds in Dudley Hewitt Cup Action

Photo credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images
Photo credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images
Photo credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images
Photo credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images

Toronto Wins in Shoot Out in Dudley Hewitt Cup Excitement

FORT FRANCES, Ont. – Mitch Emerson had the lone goal in the shootout as the Toronto Patriots (OJHL) edged the Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) 4-3 Thursday afternoon in Game 5 of the Dudley Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship at Ice for Kids Arena in Fort Frances.

Despite the result however, Sault Ste. Marie finishes in top spot in the four-team event and advances directly to Saturday’s championship game.

Toronto meanwhile finishes in second spot in the overall standings and will play in Friday’s semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Central/8:30 p.m.

In that contest they’ll take on the winner of this evening’s final round robin match-up between the host Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) and the Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL).

A Lakers’ win in regulation or overtime or even a point with an OT defeat will send them to the semifinal against the Patriots.

A GM Ice Dogs victory in regulation would move them to Friday’s semifinal contest.

It took Toronto nearly 12 minutes of play before they registered their first shot of the afternoon in the tight-checking opening stanza that saw Sault Ste. Marie hold the edge on attempts that hit the net at 11-5.

An early man advantage opportunity in the middle session allowed Toronto to open the scoring as Louis Di Matteo darted in from the left point and snapped one through a crowd and past Thunderbirds netminder Mario Culina.

The Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Patriots added to their cushion 44 seconds later as Emerson found himself alone of Culina as he corralled a loose puck and tucked it into the top right hand corner to make it 2-0 at 3:09.

Three minutes after that, the Soo got one back as Eric Hillock drove hard to toward the net and stuffed his effort through the pads of Toronto goaltender Mat Robson.

Buoyed by that, the title holders of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League levelled the proceedings as NOJHL playoff MVP Owen Headrick fired an attempt that was stopped by Robson’s pad, but rebounded to Joey Miller who one-timed it home from the top of the crease.

The tallies kept coming in the period as Toronto retook the lead with Matthew Cairns rifling one from the left side through a screen at 15:09 to make it a 3-2 game after 40 minutes.

Moments after ringing one off the goal post on a breakaway, Boris Katchouk notched the equalizer 4:41 into the third as he charged out from behind the net, spun and jammed the loose puck underneath Robson.

Both clubs battled hard the rest of the way through the remainder of regulation and a 10-minute over period where they two sides went four skaters aside.

In the shootout, Emerson was the only one to connect lifting his attempt over Culina’s right pad.

Owen Headrick had two assists for the Thunderbirds and did Nicholas Ursitti of the Patriots.

Shots on goal favoured the Soo 33-22 with Emerson and Headrick picking up player of the game accolades.

Live scoring and tournament information can be found on the Dudley-Hewitt Cup website at

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