Carson Legault’s hat trick propels RHA Winnipeg to title
Heading into the championship game against Edge School, Carson Legault had recorded two points (1G, 1A) to his credit in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) Playoffs. A large majority of the scoring duties for No. 10 RINK Hockey Academy Winnipeg had been handled by Kayden Turner (5G, 10A) and Connor Bear (4G, 9A). That dynamic duo not only finished the postseason as the leaders on Winnipeg’s roster, but among all skaters in the league.
But it was Legault who put the team on his back in the title game, finding the back of the net three times to lead his team to a 5-1 victory for the U16 Prep Western Championship. It is the first CSSHL title in club history.
Edge would draw first blood following a fortuitous bounce off a zone dump in. The puck bounced past Winnipeg goaltender Brant Catellier from behind the net right to a charging Simon Cecconi. Before Catellier could react, the puck was banged into the open net for a 1-0 lead. After knocking on the door for what seemed like an eternity, Legault finally managed to beat Connor Nicolson with a rocket from the blue line, evening the score at 13:48 of the period. Just 11 seconds after, Legault collected a loose puck off an errant pass from Tee Hagel and whipped a one-timer that beat Nicolson between the legs, from the slot to put Winnipeg up 2-1.
RHA Winnipeg continued its dominance into the second period. Minutes into the frame, Koy Funk deflected a point shot from Josh McGregor to push the lead to 3-1. Shortly after, Legault dropped to one knee and blasted a shot past the glove of Nicolson to complete the hat trick.
Nicolson was pulled as a result, with Jonah Tonhauser coming into the game. After making nine saves on nine shots, Tonhauser suffered an injury, forcing Nicolson back into the crease. Getting little time to reacclimate himself, Kayden Turner knocked in a loose puck during a net-mouth scramble for his second point of the game and fifth Winnipeg goal.
Edge was unable to mount a comeback attempt, with Winnipeg’s defense shutting things down for the rest of regulation. Overall, Catellier finished with 19 saves on 20 shots, with Nicolson stopping 40 of the 45 pucks that came his way. RHA Winnipeg’s playoff run would end at 5-0-0, allowing just six goals across all matchups.
Edge nabs sixth U18 Prep CSSHL championship
With RINK Hockey Academy Kelowna defeating Edge School in overtime back on March 15th, tensions were running high heading into the rematch with a championship on the line. But no strangers to competing for CSSHL championships in the past, it was Edge’s veteran players and playoff experience that pushed them ahead to their sixth CSSHL U18 Prep Championship. Having last won in the 2016-17 season, Edge won four straight championships from 2009 to 2013; the first four years the CSSHL was also in operation.
Callas Pierce would get the scoring started when he took a pass from Jace Hader and fired a wrist shot under the blocker of Noah Davis for a 1-0 lead. About seven minutes later, Hayden Harsanyi would knot things up at one goal apiece, when he shot the puck on net that was deflected off Kelowna defender John Franceschetti and in.
Edge had numerous opportunities to break the deadlock in the second period, with a double-minor and major penalties being issued to RHA Kelowna skaters. Thanks to the incredible goaltending from Kelowna’s Evan Gardner, the action would continue into the third period with the teams still tied 2-2. Gardner made 18 saves alone in the period, and finished the game with 42 saves.
Shortly into the third, Terik Parascak would put Edge up 2-1 off a low shot from the right circle that beat Gardner’s glove. With the goalie pulled, Kelowna was able to muster some dangerous chances with the extra skater, but they were denied by Davis. Any chance at a comeback were ended when Parascak deposited his second goal into the empty net, securing the 3-1 win. He would lead all skaters in the postseason with six goals and 12 points in five games.
After the game, head coach James Poole shared his thoughts on the victory.