The Northwest Giants toasted the New Year with a second AAA midget boys' hockey title at the 35th annual Mac's Cup tournament in Calgary on New Year's Day.
Jackson Cressey scored the game-winning goal in double overtime in a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Junior Hurricanes at the ScotiaBank Saddledome.
Brandon Del Grosso was the hero of the gold-medal final, garnering two points, including the game-tying goal with just 12.5 seconds left in regulation time.
With goalie Bo Didur on the bench for a sixth attacker, Malik Kaila moved the puck to Jarid Lukosevicius, who made a short pass to Del Grosso, who roofed the puck past Carolina player of the game Sean Kuehn.
The Giants won their first Mac's Cup in 2009.
"It was real tough," said Giants first-year head coach Clint Thornton regarding the Hurricanes' 17 and 18 year-old lineup. "Even the Czech team we beat in the semis had five over-age players. But I enjoy that aspect of it. It's a real test."
After a scoreless first 10-minute overtime period, Colton Kerfoot sent Eric Margo and Cressey away up the right side on a two-on-one break.
Margo fed a drop pass to Cressey, whose return pass glanced off a defenceman's skate past Kuehn for the winning goal.
Giants' player of the game Anthony Conti scored the Giants' first goal, tying the score 1-1 on a power play late in the opening period.
But it was the final minute that added to the suspence of the tournament final.
With time ticking away, Thornton kept Didur in the cage until the Giants established control in the Carolina zone.
"I just felt we had control in their zone and they wouldn't be able to get (the puck) back. We just needed one shot," Thornton said.
Didur was also a big factor, stopping eight of Carolina's 32 shots in the Giants' net in the first period of OT.
Cressey was also the hero in the Giants' 4-2 win over Pirati Chomutov from the Czech Republic in the semifinals. Cressey scored two goals, including the eventual game-winner in the middle frame, in a three-point effort.
The Giants knocked off the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs 8-5 in a quarter-final matchup.
Lukosevicius and Conti both scored twice for the Giants in the high-scoring playoff.
The Giants won their pool with a perfect 4-0 record against the Leduc Oil Kings, Alaska Junior Aces, Tisdale Trojans and Calgary Flames.
Margo was named a second team all-tournament all-star.
"Our team took this tournament as a learning experience," said Thornton. "I'm hoping that will be the lesson learned. We enjoyed it, now let's focus on our goal of getting to the Telus Cup."
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