Tillsonburg Demaiter Real Estate juveniles won once, lost twice, and nearly made the semifinals of the International Silver Stick in Mooretown.
"We missed a semifinal game by two points," said Demaiter Real Estate head coach Craig Milton.
Literally, they missed the final four by a matter of centimetres.
"My defenceman – in a 6-5 (loss) against Tavistock – hit the crossbar. And it went up, with like five seconds left on the clock. It was that close."
"If we would have tied them, we would have made semis," said assistant coach John Milton.
"We had tied a period, and won a period, and we would have split the points for the game," nodded Craig Milton. "And we would have put them out."
Tillsonburg was an automatic qualifier into the Mooretown International Silver Stick
"We didn't have a qualifier," "Some of the more northern teams... have a qualifier, but we went directly into it.
"Some of these guys had never been to a Silver Stick – some were very excited about it. And the same thing happened last year, right after Silver Stick, we really started to peak, really started to gel. And that's what we're doing right now."
The Demaiter Real Estate Juveniles did not come home empty-handed. The team was awarded the tournament's Team Sportsmanlike Award – one team selected from all juvenile divisions from C to AAA, nearly 50 teams in total.
"We're there to play hockey, we don't fight, we don't go there to be ignorant. We don't chirp the referees. And I really push that."
"It's given to the team showing the most sportsmanship and I was very proud of that."
It's a trait they've shown all year, Milton stressed.
"Other than the game yesterday," he laughed. "The game yesterday..."
"We were winning 9-3," nodded his son, John.
"Something I've never seen before..." said Craig Milton, shaking his head. "Sportsmanlike when they're losing, but when they're winning..."
Lincoln 4, Tillsonburg 2
Lincoln scored three times late in the third period to take a 4-1 lead in Tillsonburg's Silver Stick opener.
Tillsonburg scoring: 1. Trevor Cowlan; 2. Calvin Catherwood.
Tillsonburg 4, St. Marys 3
Charlie LaForge won it for the Demaiter Real Estate juveniles scoring the only goal of the third period with 1:27 left in regulation. The teams had swapped one goal each in the first period and two each in the second.
Tillsonburg scoring: 1. Andrew Vanwyk; 2. Donnie King; 3. Donnie King (Josh Soares, Andrew Vanwyk); 4. Charlie LaForge.
Tavistock 6, Tillsonburg 5
Tavistock jumped to a 4-2 first-period lead, and regained their two-goal lead with 5:36 left to play in the third. Josh Soares' second of the game with 4:28 set up a nailbiter finish, but Tavistock's penalty killers were able to save the win.
Tillsonburg scoring: 1. Calvin Catherwood; 2. Andrew Vanwyk (Brandon Lawler); 3. Derick Sweazey; 4. Josh Soares (Brandon Lawler); 5. Andrew Vanwyk.
Playing in the Roy Beechey League, the Tillsonburg Juveniles have had their struggles this season.
"I think our record is 3-12-3 with two games left in our regular season," said Milton before Sunday night's practice.
"We've got a big diversity – house league guys and guys who've played rep all their life. You try to bring them up to speed and get them to play as a team, and that's where it's tough for coaches to keep things interesting, but simple."
The Demaiter juveniles have a geographic mix of players.
"We've got one guy from Thamesford, two from Norwich, four from Aylmer, a couple from Langton, and I think the rest are from Tillsonburg. I've got a really good mix and they're starting to come together, starting to play as a team."
OMHA playdowns, started Wednesday at home to Glanbrook. The best-of-seven series returns to Tillsonburg on Feb. 8 for Game 3.
"They are 20-0," Milton noted. "Almost the same as last year."
League playoffs do not begin until teams drop out of OMHAs.