More Knight-mares ahead in Jr. B

DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

Bad news appears to be on the horizon for Junior B teams in this part of the province -- the Ottawa West Golden Knights expect to be just as strong again next season. Only five players are moving on from a powerhouse squad that went 30-6-2-2 in the regular season and then 16-3 in the playoffs, capping off the extraordinary run with a 6-3 win over the Alexandria Glens in a series-clinching Game 5 of the Eastern Ontario Junior B championship on Monday.

It was the third such title won by Ottawa West in the last four years, and second in three seasons under coach Keith Schaefer.

"I think we'll have a good shot next year," said Schaefer, who, the organization will be pleased to know, also plans to return for the 2005-06 term.

"I'm like the players, who like to play at the highest level they can. I'd like to move on to Jr. A, or the Central League. I like the challenge. But unless a really good offer comes along, I'll stay where I am. It's a good situation at Ottawa West."

EXTRA WORK

The Golden Knights clearly respond to Schaefer.

They were one of the few teams in the league to have more than a single practice session per week, with the extra ice coming every Wednesday at 7 a.m. Teenagers, and young men in their early 20s, generally prefer going home at that time rather than going out.

"My kids were really committed and dedicated," said Schaefer. "You'd think getting them to the rink at 7 a.m. every week would never happen, but 15-20 of them showed up all the time.

"We just did things a little different ... kept it interesting and fun," added Schaefer, who along with assistant coach Blake Sinclair usually received "Sleeman Cup" honours awarded the three stars at the scrimmage portion of the early skate.

"I also made a couple of key trades, adding 21-year-olds Ian Simpson (from Carleton Place) and Mike Berry (Arnprior), and they played a big role for us."

At their upcoming banquet, the Golden Knights will bid goodbye to Berry, Simpson and fellow overagers Mike Szczygiel and Derek Wilson, as well as 18-year-old defenceman Steven Osterer, who has accepted a baseball scholarship at Cornell.

GOALIES KEEPERS

They do retain their goalies -- Chad Edwards, who was 19-0-0 in the regular season and 5-0 in the playoffs, and Steven Lacelle, who stepped forward to star in the final.

And also returning is the heart and soul of the team -- captain Sammy Majic.

Barbara Ann Scott Arena sound man Tristin Dougherty would blare rapper 50 Cent's Magic Stick every time the 5-foot-8, 160-lb. captain scored, and that was often. Majic collected 31 goals and 35 assists in 39 regular season games, and operated at a goal-a-game pace in the playoffs.

"Sammy Majic was amazing," said Schaefer. "Every game, every shift, every practice, he gave you 100%. He led by example. I could go in the dressing room between periods and say, 'Are you guys watching No. 16? Do you see what he's doing?'

''He always gave the effort you need from your captain."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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