Dynamic forward scores golden goal in 3OT for Peterborough Petes
After a scoreless three periods, the 2023 U16 Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s (OMHA) Championship game between No. 6 Peterborough Petes and No. 9 Southern Tier Admirals would require overtime to decide a winner. However, goals would be just as hard to come by until the third overtime period. Kaiden Harmon took an incredible no-look pass from Josh Avery from behind the net and blasted a one-timer to clinch the win for the Petes. The goal ended a 73-minute scoreless contest between the two Top-10 teams, winning the ‘Red Hats’ and league championship for Peterborough.
Peterborough lives up to OMHA expectations
The Petes entered the weekend as the top seed in the tournament, having gone 8-0-0 in their prior playoff games. They opened group play with a 4-1 win against the Central Ontario Wolves, with four different players finding the back of the net. Next, a hard-fought 1-1 tie with the Admirals, which would serve as a preview for the eventual rematch in the final. Peterborough’s Masen Johnston and Southern Tier’s Isaac Gravelle were both stellar in net, making 29 and 32 saves, respectively.
The Petes got back in the win column in their last game of group play with a 3-2 victory over the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs. Will McFadden scored twice for his only two goals of the tournament, sending his team into the semifinals. Awaiting them would be No. 3 York Simcoe Express, a program whose 2006 squad won the U16 championship last year. No strangers to one another, the two clubs battled six times during the regular season, with Peterborough going 4-1-1.
The depth that York Simcoe showed in its playoff stretch was unable to get going, mainly due to the strong defense and goaltending of the Petes. Johnston was lights out in goal yet again, and Harmon collected his first goals of the weekend, with the first coming shorthanded. The win would set up a second battle with Southern Tier with the OMHA title on the line.
Admirals get hot at right time
Southern Tier’s road to the final game wasn’t so easy. Easton Lynds scored twice to kick off group play with a 4-1 win against the Jr. Bulldogs. However, the offense would dry up shortly after that. They skated to two ties against the Petes and Wolves to set up a semifinal clash with No. 6 Halton Hurricanes. The Hurricanes entered the matchup as the top scoring team, with four players making up the top four point-getters among all participants. However, they struggled mightily to beat Gravelle in net. He recorded 32 saves, and Noah Reed scored two goals on top of that to push the Admirals past Halton.
Johnston notches third shutout of OMHA Playoffs
Given the way Johnston and Gravelle were playing ahead of the championship game, many were expecting a low-scoring final. In regulation, the Petes managed to put 24 shots on goal in regulation, while the Admirals put up 21 of their own. Both goalies remained perfect heading into overtime.
Peterborough made a strong push for the win in the first overtime, producing more chances and shots early on. The second overtime would be more of the same, with Southern Tier slightly outshooting the Petes, 6-5. Put on a power play just before the halfway point of the third overtime, the Petes sensed their moment. After some time in the offensive zone, Avery collected a pass from Ben Radley and sent a perfect pass on the tape of Harmon. Wasting no time, he threw it on net, beating the blocker of Gravelle, who was just late to react.
Johnston would finish with 31 saves and his third shutout of the tournament.
Despite the loss, the Admirals will still be joining the Petes, Hurricanes and Express as the four representatives of the OMHA in the upcoming U16 OHL Cup. World Hockey Hub will have extended coverage of the OHL Cup and its participating teams. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube to stay up-to-date!