2017 SPRING DISAPPOINTMENT GIVES WAY TO SUMMER EXCITEMENT!
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Fri Apr 21st 2017 2:20pm
The Young Canadians finished fourth in the regular season of their 3rd go-round at tier 3 ball hockey. Unfortunately, the playoffs told a familiar story. A 5-2 loss to the 5th place Shaolin Monks in the elimination game, continued a futile run of playoff losses. Going back to their 1st season of tier 3 (Spring 2016), the YC have now lost 4 straight playoff games.
Now, the main reason Coach Da Ponte put his team into tier 3 was to make sure they had a competitive game every night they played. Too often, in tier 4, they would blow teams away during the regular season, only to lose to those same teams in the playoffs. Not so in tier 3. In the two regular season meetings versus the Monks, the result was a 2-2 tie. In fact, Da Ponte’s theory worked perfectly in the spring season. The YC’s largest margin of victory in its two wins was 3 goals (4-1 & 5-2). They also had 4 ties. There were no cake walks, unless you count the ones by the opposition. In their 4 losses, the YC was outscored 19-4 (including 2 shutouts). The losing is not something the YC is used to. But then, they weren’t facing the calibre of teams they are in tier 3.
There’s no doubt in the mind of Coach Da Ponte that his team will eventually make a permanent move to tier 3. “You can see that the desire to play at a higher level is there with the majority of the players. Some still feel that we need to legitimately win a championship and qualify for the provincials before we make a permanent move. I understand that line of thinking. I’m hoping that by playing 2 straight seasons in tier 3, we will be better prepared for the challenges of the Niagara tournament and qualifying for the Ontario’s.”
The team will be making a big change this summer, moving from the comfortable confines of YCBHL to DPBHL at the Hangar. The YC have played 26 seasons at “Rinx. “We have been with them every summer since 2009. We enjoyed our time playing there but I just think we’ve plateaued. Every summer, we would go into the season knowing who we needed to beat and who we could dismiss as challengers. Ultimately, this led to us losing games we should’ve won because we overlooked the competition (based on previous history). Once we passed the point of not finishing first, thus not qualifying for the provincials, the rest of the season became pointless to play. And you could see it in our demeanor.
Switching over to a new league, the YC will be facing 5 teams they have never met before. The players will be reinvigorated by this new challenge. Also, by sending the playoff champion to the provincials, the team can use the regular season to get ready for that 2-3 week period in July/August that counts the most.
2016/17 WINTER TIER 3 - YC LOSE IN A SHOOTOUT... AGAIN!
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Mon Jan 30th 2017 4:50pm
The Young Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs actually have something in common. Neither can win a shootout! For the 6th time in their franchise history, the YC have lost a playoff shootout. This time, 1-0 to the Autobots. In yet another disappointing end to a season, the YC will not have much time to wallow in their tears as they will be starting the Tier 3 Spring season in a few short weeks.
The YC started the season well, in similar fashion to their Spring 2016 Tier 3 campaign. They were 3-1-1 after 5 games. In those games, the fewest amount of players to show up was 11 (once). With almost a full lineup every game, coach Da Ponte had the most options at his disposal. It was in the back half of the season that things started to unravel. The YC only won 1 game out of the final 6. They never had more than 10 players attend. For one game, vs. the Autobots, only 7 players showed up. Those 7 did their best, holding the Bots to a 1-1 tie. But with :53 seconds left, the Bots managed to score the game-winner, as a tired group couldn’t hang on any longer.
There were other lowlights. Losing 8-6 to the last place Toronto Snipers, their only victory of the season. The YC blew a 5-2 lead in the 2nd half, allowing 5 unanswered goals in the process. Granted, the team started with 7 players, but 2 more showed up during the course of the game. Another lowlight would be the final game vs. the Jabronis. Having never beaten them before, the YC held a 4-2 lead with 4:00 minutes to play. What should’ve been a win, ended up being a tie when the Jabronis scored a weak 3rd goal on coach Da Ponte (who subbed in Chris D’Ascanio) & then tied the game with :06 seconds left, in a mad scramble in the goal crease.
The season wasn’t all bad. Coach Da Ponte may have finally found a dependable back-up for regular starter Chris D’Ascanio. After getting to know Lumberjacks’ goalie Joe Sinopoli at a stag, Da Ponte asked him to play a few games when D’Ascanio couldn’t. Sinopoli ended up with a 3-1 record, including 2 shutouts in his 4 games. Also, the team was introduced to 2 new players this season, forward Steven De Falco & defenseman Brandon De Melo. Both became indispensable, as they fit in perfectly with the team’s established players & style. Brandon was even selected to represent the YC at the DPBHL Tier 3 All-Star game, along with Mike Verardi & Jamie Parkes.
Ultimately, Coach Da Ponte knows exactly what needs to happen in the upcoming spring season for the team to be successful. “If every player shows up, then we will be a very tough team to beat,” said Da Ponte. “I’ve said many times before, the one thing that will prevent the YC from being successful in Tier 3, is the team itself. The reason we’re here is to get used to playing tough teams EVERY game! If only 10 players (or less) show up, how are we going to be competitive?”
Whether it was because of injuries or personal obligations, the Young Canadians’ second go round in tier 3 didn’t end as hoped. With a couple of weeks to recuperate from injuries and the NFL season out of the way, Da Ponte is hoping that everyone comes back with a renewed sense of focus. They must. The Toronto Snipers have left & the return of arch-rivals, the Young Gunz and the veteran laden Hurricanes, will make this spring even tougher than the winter.
YC ARE PLAYOFF CHAMPS, DESPITE DISAPPOINTING SUMMER SEASON
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Wed Nov 23rd 2016 12:58pm
The Young Canadians finished off their summer season with an 8-3 win over the Stingers. It was their 3rd overall championship, but 1st since Summer 2011. Unfortunately, the celebrations were muted. While, the YC were full value for the win, it did not make up for a disappointing 2 day segment, earlier in the summer. July 10 & 11 were the days that essentially doomed their season.
After playing their hearts out all weekend in the Niagara tournament, the YC made it to the semi-finals on Sunday morning. It was a tough battle versus their hated rival, the Toronto Reign. Down by 1 goal, with less than :10 seconds to play & the extra man on the floor, JR Harris blasted a shot from the point that found its way to the back of the net. The team and it's fans were in hysterics! They truly believed this was there time to finally conquer all their tournament demons. Facing an army of subs on the Reign bench, the YC's 11 players felt they could pull it out in OT. But, it wasn't meant to be. About :20 seconds into OT, the Reign gained the zone, YC players were scrambling and the ball found it's way to the front of the net, where it disappeared under a bunch of diving bodies. While everyone was looking at the pile, the ball popped out to the side & was quickly snapped by an unaware Graciano Da Ponte. The obvious jubilation of the Reign contrasted the utter exhaustion & disappointment of the Young Canadians.
But instead of having a few days to recuperate from the tournament, the YC had to play again that same night. With injuries & exhaustion to deal with, the YC fielded 6 players against the Toronto Heat, who had 9 in their lineup. Unbelievably, the YC actually took a 6-3 lead in the 2nd half. But it would not last. The Heat made it 6-5 and the YC hung on for dear life, barely able to clear the zone. The 6 players and the goalie gave an incredibly gutsy performance, hanging on to the 1 goal win. But their week would only get worse.
The next night, the YC had to play the division leading Stingers, who had been at home waiting all weekend for this game, at their arena on their night. First place in the division and a shot at the provincials, came down to this one game. If the YC won, they would move 1 point ahead of the Stingers & control their own destiny. If the Stingers won, they would move 3 points ahead of the YC, with no realistic chance of being caught. Missing 3 players to injuries sustained in Niagara & the rest feeling the toll of 7 games in 3 days, facing a rested Stingers team was not what they hoped for with so much on the line. The YC did their best, but the odds were stacked against them and a 6-3 loss was the result.
The frustration of this loss festered for the rest of the season. There was no fight left in the team. No desire to continue with meaningless games. The feeling continued into the playoffs, from both teams. The Stingers defaulted game #1 of the finals & only showed up with 7 players for game #2, where they were unceremoniously dispatched 8-3. It was a hollow victory, since the YC knew the Stingers had been to the Provincials that same weekend and were facing the same dilemma they faced after Niagara. The difference being, this game had no real meaning and it showed in the players lack of enthusiasm.
How do you assess a season like this? On one hand, you experience the best tournament showing you've ever had. On the other, the exuberance of tying a game with seconds left, only to lose in OT, coupled with a loss to effectively end your chase for first with 3 games to go, left everybody with a bad taste in their mouth. In turn, this led the team to skip the Playdowns for the first time in many years. Also, the decision was made to skip the fall season. The players felt that a break was needed to get over these bad feelings.
The team will regroup for a another challenge this winter. They will be joining the Tier 3 division at Downsview Park, where they played last spring. Coach Da Ponte has reloaded the team for the upcoming challenge, temporarily replacing players who couldn't commit with new ones who he hopes can help them compete and ultimately, win the division.
Inaugural Tier 3 Season Comes to an End.
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Mon May 16th 2016 4:43pm
The Young Canadians first foray into Tier 3 hockey came to an end after 2 losses in the quarter-finals. Unfortunately, due to injuries & absences, the YC had to play their final 2 games with 7 & 9 players, respectively. It was not the way Coach Da Ponte had envisioned going out in the team's first crack at Tier 3. "We proved early on, that with a full lineup, not only could we compete in Tier 3, we could win in Tier 3" said Da Ponte.
Mario Loponte severely injuring his knee in the winter season playoffs, the retirement of Adam Casinelli after 1 game & Daniel Rosato's ciatic nerve acting up on the eve of the spring season, all proved too much of a hurdle to overcome. The most attended game of the season was the 1st game versus their rivals the Young Gunz. With 13 players in the lineup, Da Ponte was able to have consistent lines & defensive pairings all night. It was probably the team's most comprehensive win of the season.
But bad habits started to turn up in game #4 vs. Garage Guys. The YC stormed out to a 3-0 lead against the perennial favorites, only to see it evaporate early in the 2nd half. They would take the lead again 2 more times, with GG tying it each time, the last one with :52 seconds left in the game. The final score was 5-5, but after that game, the YC's record was 2-7-1 (including playoffs). The YC never seemed to get back on track.
The good news is that everyone seems to be on the same page about this first season in Tier 3. With a consistent lineup every game, the Young Canadians can definitely compete at this level. They will be headed back to Tier 4 this summer, in what will hopefully be their final time doing so. It's all or nothing to qualify for the summer provincials one last time!
YC Qualify for Playoffs in First Tier 3 Season
Posted by: Graciano Da Ponte on Wed Apr 13th 2016 1:22pm
The Young Canadians have checked off one of their goals for this first season in Tier 3 by qualifying for the playoffs. With the 1 point gained from a 4-4 tie versus the Jabronis, they have guaranteed, at worst, a 6th place tie with the Malton Mavericks. But with the tiebreakers being: 1. Most Wins (4 each), 2. Head-to-head (YC 1-0-1), the YC will have the advantage.
It has not been an easy season. The YC roster is not as full as it has been in other seasons. They are getting by with only 12 full time players. Early in the season, Adam "Cass" Casinelli, retired from ball hockey due to an violent incident suffered while playing ice hockey. This was in addition to previous confrontations in ball hockey last year. Also, on the eve of the season, Daniel Rosato's ciatic nerve flared up and kept him out of hockey for several weeks. By the time he was ready to come back, the 7 game registration deadline had just passed. That's 2 players that Coach Da Ponte had counted on playing.
And with Mario Loponte seriously injuring his knee in the finals of the winter season & Michael Lorenzon going back to his first Tier 3 team (Young Gunz), Da Ponte didn't have many options available. Luckily, Matthew Torres, who is a friend of the Triplets (Chris, Randy & Pedro), was brought on board to help the team.
There have been many ups & downs so far. Beating the Young Gunz, in the first ever meeting between the 2 teams, was especially satisfying for many of the long time YC players. Also, Coach Da Ponte's goaltending performance in a 1-0 shutout of the 1st place Greenbirds, was a personal reminder that he may not be ready to hang up the boots just yet. On the downside, missing out on wins when giving up the lead in the final minutes, has been a concern. And let's not forget the 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the Garage Guys, even though we've all tried to.
Despite all the obstacles, the YC are in a position, with 2 games left, to finish 1st in the division. With a rematch against the Greenbirds and a game versus the Gunz, to end the season, the YC will be looking to cap off a successful inaugural Tier 3 campaign.