It may have taken a little longer than hoped, but the end result is exactly what the Dundas Real McCoys were looking for.
After disposing of the Brantford Blast to capture the Major League Hockey Championship, the Real McCoys couldn’t find a way to get in the win column against the Whitby Dunlops and were swept in the Robertson Cup. However, their second chance, with Allan Cup aspirations on the line, came last weekend in the Renwick Cup against the Thunder Bay Hawks and the Real McCoys took advantage of a regional omission to the national tournament and home ice advantage.
With Atlantic Canada sidelined for this year’s 100th Allan Cup in Brantford, the MLH winner received an opportunity to face the Northern Ontario winners for the Renwick Cup and a coveted place in the historic hockey tournament if they failed to win the Robertson Cup. In turn, Dundas was host to Thunder Bay last weekend at Grighmire Arena and earned what they have been striving for since last season’s forgettable finish, a trip down the 403 to join the Centennial celebration of one of this country’s legendary events.
The best-of-three showdown with Thunder Bay opened with a bang on Friday (April 5), as the McCoys and Hawks battled back and forth in a goal scoring exhibition that needed an extra session to decide the winner. Rob DeCiants, a prominent playoff performer for Dundas, notched the game winner at 16:26 of the overtime period, sending the standing room only crowd into a frenzy. It was the completion of a hat trick for DeCiantis, in a 9-8 thriller. Mike Lankshear, Mike Aglor, Chris Wismer, newcomer Ken Sutton each tallied single goals for the Real McCoys, while Mike Kennedy scored twice and added two assists. Mark Jooris continued his dynamic playoff run for Dundas, picking up six assists.
The following night in game two, with the chance to clinch the Renwick Cup title, along with the Allan Cup invitation, the Real McCoys didn’t miss a step. Nick Smith and Justin Davis spotted Dundas a two-goal advantage after the opening 20 minutes, a lead the Real McCoys would never relinquish. DeCiantis and Ryan Christie opened the lead up to 4-0 by the middle of the second period and by the time the horn sounded to end the game, the McCoys had a 4-2 victory, a Renwick Cup Championship to enjoy and a plan had come to fruition for a delighted Dundas staff.
“The weekend put the finishing touches on a plan that started last spring,” said Real McCoys’ general manager and associate head coach Don Robertson. “And that was to make it to the 100th Allan Cup. Anything short of that would have been a disappointment in my eyes.
“We had the additions of Ken Sutton and Joel Dezainde in from Calgary and some (injured players) returned. I think that really helped us play well against a good Thunder Bay team that never quit.”
The next step, the biggest one of all, will begin on Monday, when the Real McCoys battle a familiar foe. Dundas opens the Allan Cup tournament with a matinee affair against the very team that made them take the scenic route to this point, the Whitby Dunlops. Although success was hard to come by in the Robertson Cup series with Whitby, the McCoys are looking forward to Monday’s (April 14) 1 p.m. tournament opener.
“The boys can’t wait for game one,” said Robertson. “We’ll play Whitby again, but this time with a near full roster for this first time. It should give a better read on how good we are.”
The McCoys are positioned in Division One, alongside Whitby, a finalist last year, and the defending champion Lloydminster Border Kings. The other bracket has Brantford, the Pacific Champion Bentley Generals and the winner of the Quebec region. The top team in each bracket earns a bye into the semi-finals and home team designation while a second place finish will garner home team advantage in the quarter finals.
An exciting tournament is on deck for everyone involved and history will be made in Brantford where the 100th Allan Cup Champion will be crowned next Saturday. And before Dundas takes its shot at Canadian hockey lore they would like to salute an irreplaceable part of their playoff story.
“We’d like to thank the local fans who made this season’s playoff and regular season such an enjoyable ride,” exclaimed Robertson. “The players and executive just loved it. Thank you!”