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Cyclones capture Guelph's first national ball hockey title

Guelph's U15 team won the Canadian Ball Hockey Championship in Newfoundland over the weekend
The Guelph Cyclones U15 ball hockey team huddle around the Jack Cup as 2023 Canadian Ball Hockey Champions.

Guelph is the city of hockey champions once again.

The Guelph Cyclones U15 team won the Canadian Ball Hockey Championship in Newfoundland this past weekend, capturing the city's first-ever national ball hockey title.

"It's an incredible feeling, once in a lifetime," said Cyclones assistant coach Steve Van Dam. "You never dream of being a Canadian national champion, that's for sure, and to go out and actually get it done is a task in itself, something we've been trying for for years."

The Cyclones qualified for the tournament by winning the provincial title in 2022, beating the arch rival Kitchener-Waterloo Rangers in the final.

And who did the Cyclones match up with in the national final this time around?

The very same KW Rangers, who also qualified for nationals by finishing second in the 2022 provincials. Guelph blanked the Rangers 3-0 to win the Jack Cup.

"We've always had a rivalry with Kitchener," Van Dam said.

Guelph did face some adversity, losing to Kitchener 3-2 in an exhibition game just before the national tournament, but got redemption when it mattered most, amid extreme heat.

"They're not used to that heat out in Newfoundland in the rinks," he said. "A couple in particular were just unbearable to play. 

"To weather some of those setbacks and make it through, it took a whole team. We needed three lines deep to be successful, there's no doubt."

The Guelph Minor Ball Hockey Association paid for the team to make the trip.

Jackson Taraborrelli started in net for Guelph, and went 5-1 with a shutout in the gold medal game. He finished the tournament with a 2.51 GAA.

Luke Saramak led the tournament with 10 goals and 17 points in six games.

Now, this crop will move on to the next age group, but Guelph will have an entry in next year's U15 national tournament after its younger group qualified in a provincial tournament.

The goal of the tournament, Van Dam said, was to also expose the players to scouts who are looking for players to represent Canada at the world championships.

"I would suspect that we'll probably see a significant amount of them recruited to go play for Team Canada at the worlds," he said.