This year's Bantam 1 Championship series featured the Sharks and the Monarchs in what turned out to be a series for the ages! Early in the series, the Monarchs took control and made it look like they were going to make light work of the Sharks. The Sharks had other thoughts about how easy they were going to go down. Being down 2-0 in the series, the Sharks had to dig deep to find the drive within to battle back and make a statement. They did just that by winning Game 3 and bringing the series to within 1 game. In Game 4, it was a completely different story with the Monarchs dominating the Sharks in a commanding 9-0 win and putting themselves only 1 win away from taking home the Championship. Just like before, being down 2 games in the series, the Sharks looked deep within and found the drive to step-up to the plate and defeat the Monarchs 2 games in a row by scores of 4-0 and 4-1. These victories by the Sharks set the stage for an eventful game 7 that took place on March 13 at the BellMTS Iceplex.
With the game being a winner takes all situation, both teams came out with guns-a-blazing. Each team played to their strengths with the Monarchs showcasing their impressive offensive abilities and the Sharks bringing their physicality and speed trying to wear down the Monarchs. The Monarchs bombarded the Sharks goalie Matthew Kieper, who stood on his head all series long, with over 40 shots in the game.
Both teams played the first two periods without any goals being scored which laid the groundwork for an exciting third period. With the Monarchs having sustained pressure in the Sharks zone, Zach Nicolas sent the puck up to the top to a waiting Jason Ruff who walked the blueline and unleashed a snap shot through a crowd of players in front of the Shark's goal. Unable to see the shot through the mass traffic in front of him, Ruff’s shot flew untouched into the top corner and past the Sharks goaltender Matthew Kieper. The Monarchs had a 1-0 lead with roughly 13 minutes still left in the third period. The Sharks came out strong the next shift after the goal, creating chances of their own and almost tying the game up. With 2 minutes left in the game, the Sharks elected to pull their goalie for the extra attacker. The Sharks poured on the pressure and held possession in the Monarchs zone for the majority of the odd man situation and created many chances to tie the game up. In the dying seconds of the period, the Monarchs got the puck out of their zone forcing the Sharks to regroup and come back in on the attack. As the Sharks re-entered the zone, time expired and the Monarchs helmets, gloves and sticks rained down on the ice. The Monarchs had fended off an attack from the Sharks and won the Bantam 1 AAA City League.
Congratulations to both the Sharks and Monarchs on an amazing series as well as great seasons!