After a stunning 17-1-0 regular-season during which the Preds outscored their opponents 93-21, it was expected the team would go deep in the playoffs. How deep? That remained to be seen.
“We really didn’t know what to expect at first, but after a month of practice, we had two exhibitions in the same weekend and we won both by a combined score of 20-0. I was shocked by this outcome because during our own team scrimmages, we would never score,” said Predators head coach Warren Garfield.
“What I learned was that our team was ready to compete, but to what extent was still up in the air. Once the season got underway, we kept winning and never stopped until we finally lost our first game in January.
“Then the real turning point of our season happened during a tournament quarter-final game in Soulanges. We lost 1-0 in a game that could have gone either way and our players did not enjoy watching the other team celebrate. They did not want to see that happen to them again.”
Defenceman Emily Sarid, 10, captained the Preds to their regional win.
“The team’s ultimate moment was winning the regionals, it was an amazing thrill! As the captain, I feel tremendous pride to be part of this great team and I am grateful to my coaches for their encouragement throughout the season,” she said.
Sarid’s teammate, 11-year-old forward Elliot Grenier attributed hard work to his team’s success.
“We improved a lot on backchecking and forechecking and that became essential for our performance in the playoffs. In our [league] finals, the other team had strong players and with these skills we were able to stop them most of the time and pressure their defence,” he explained.
“It was a great feeling to win the regionals because it felt like a huge accomplishment after we worked so hard, but our league championship was even a bigger accomplishment because we were up against an even tougher opponent.”
Garfield agreed with his players.
“We achieved success this year because of balance and work; we had seven players who scored in double digits, whereas most teams had two players carrying their whole squad,” the coach said.
“We kept the same lines from Day 1, and I believe this consistency helped the players gel and get to know their linemates better as the season progressed.
“Our defence was also very quick and controlled the play in our zone and limited shots against, while our goaltenders were consistent and made a big save when needed.”
In the end, it all paid off.
“The kids faced nine consecutive do-or-die games, and the regional final was the stuff dreams are made of,” Garfield said.
“They counted down the last 10 seconds and charged the goalie while throwing their gloves sticks and helmets in jubilation. It was a bitter-sweet vision for me, however, as I knew that would be the last time I would be coaching this same great group of kids.”
The 2009-10 regional champion atom B Westmount Predators are: Maxim Bunimovich, Andrew Cohen, Lucas Clarke, Evan Dimentberg, Elliot Grenier, Alexandre Janson, Vladislav Jones, Keane Kelly-Menard, Samuel Lee-Howes, Luke O’Shea, Vincent Rizzolo, Michael Robb, Emily Sarid, Chase Sinclair, Jake Star, Paul Westenberg. They were coached by Warren Garfield, Stephanie Gliksman, McShane Jones, and Andrew Robb.
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