The Brantford Minor Hockey Association’s peewee AAA 99ers will be playing for a medal at the Ontario Hockey Federation championship in Ottawa.
After starting Thursday off with a 5-3 loss against the first-place Mississauga Senators, Brantford rebounded with a 5-2 win against the Markham Waxers in the afternoon.
That left the 99ers with a record of 3-3, good enough to place them third in the seven-team tournament.
Brantford will face the Ottawa 67’s (5-1) in a 12:30 p.m. semifinal on Friday with the winner moving on to the championship game at 7:30 p.m. The loser would play at 5 p.m. for bronze.
Ottawa beat Brantford 3-2 in its preliminary game on Tuesday after taking an early 3-0 lead against the 99ers.
The other semifinal, at 10 a.m., pits Mississauga against an unknown opponent. It wasn’t known at press time which team was fourth because three teams were still in the mix for the final spot, with a single game remaining in preliminary play.
The peewees found out first-hand Thursday what everyone else at the tournament already knew – the Senators are a tough team to beat.
Falling behind 2-0 after a period – even after they were awarded a five-on-three power-play advantage at one point – the 99ers trimmed their deficit to 2-1 early in the second on a goal from Jarett Moriarity.
However, Mississauga added a late goal in the middle period and then one early in the third to take a 4-1.
Lucas Karmiris then scored to make the score 4-2 and when Braydon McCallum notched a power-play marker for Brantford with 1:53 to go the deficit was down to one.
But the 99ers couldn’t find the equalizer and with seven seconds left in regulation, Mississauga scored into an empty net.
It was the closest game the Senators have played at the tournament, with its previous closest margin of victory being four goals.
In its final preliminary game, Brantford used an early third-period outburst to secure its spot in the semis.
Trailing Brantford 2-1 after one period – with all three goals credited as short-handed – Markham tied the game at 2-2 with less than two minutes played in the third.
But in a span of a little more than two minutes, starting at 2:23, Brantford scored three times to put the game out of reach.
Lucas Karmiris continued to have a fabulous tournament, scoring two goals and adding an assist in the game. Karmiris’ cousin, Tommy, also had a solid game with two goals.
Gavin Birmingham rounded out the scoring as Marek Vanacker picked up a pair of assists.
Landon Terrebroodt was outstanding in goal, stopping 29 shots as Brantford was outshot 31-21.
With Mississauga’s result from its final pool game not available at press time, the tournament scoring title was still up for grabs. However, with just the Senators last game remaining, Karmiris led all scorers with seven goals and six assists.
His 13 points gave him a narrow lead over of a pair of Senators before they played their final game. William Moore had 12 points (5G, 7A) and Carter Lowe had 11 (4G, 7A).
Those three players were the only ones in the tournament averaging more than two points per game.
Karmiris’ seven goals led all scorers. Mississauga’s Malcolm Spence was right behind with six while Nathan Villeneuve of the 67’s also had six but his team had completed preliminary play.
Brantford’s Marek Vanacker (3G, 6A) was tied for fifth in scoring.