With the Days to Christmas dwindling that meant that the DP Tier 2 season was quickly coming to an end. After nearly seventy action packed games the Toronto Titans were crowned Champions after a thrilling come from behind victory over the Toronto Hitmen who played valiantly in an epic three game series. The Hitmen were well deserved of their spot in the final and in the eyes of many observers outplayed the Titans in the best of three finals. The Titans behind the outstanding goaltending from Justin Cruz and the undisputed leadership from team Captain Jason Arruda persevered every time it looked like the going was getting tough.
The Titans started the season in what could only be described from their standards as a disaster. Five straight losses to open the season, Captain Jason Arruda had yet to play a game, the team minus many of the familiar faces from season’s past had a new young look to it, a re building season and a non-playoff session looked in the cards for the proud franchise. In that sixth game of the season the Titans escaped with a 2-1 victory over the Mississauga Islanders and they never looked back from their getting the monkey off their backs started the ball rolling. In the next sixteen games leading to their Championship they were beaten only two times once by the division leading Falcons and once by the Hitmen in game two of the Finals. With their confidence growing and their leader back in the fold the Titans never looked back. They escaped a QF series with bitter rivals the Leafs Reloaded by securing a game two draw on a late goal to take the best of two total point’s series three points to one. Next up would be the Falcons who many pegged as eventual Champions after an outstanding regular season saw them finish a top the ultra-competitive division. The Titans and mainly Jason Arruda dispatched the Falcons in a series that saw goaltender Justin Cruz dominate. After falling behind 2-0 in the first period of game one the Titans would score the next five goals of the series winning game one 3-2 and game two 2-0. They would be returning to the finals and the Toronto Hitmen would be their opponent who themselves had eliminated both the North York Sharks and the TBB on their way to their first ever Downsview Park Tier 2 Finals.
We would be treated to an outstanding three game series that saw many individuals raise their game to the next level. Jimmy Nistas has always been regarded as one of the best players this division has to offer and his performance in the post season will go down as dominating. He led this young squad to within minutes of a Championship. His composure, discipline and calming effect on younger teammates was evident and his offensive contributions timely and monumental. His leadership raised the level of all his team mates in it led them to a silver finish. Game one saw the Hitmen dominate leading the game 3-0 with just over six minutes left. The Titans finished with a fury scoring four straight goals winning the game 4-3. Game two saw more of the same as the Hitmen would not be eliminated on this night as they pumped the Titans 4-1 to extend the series to a third and final game. The script stayed mostly the same as the Hitmen and their tenacious fore check kept the momentum in their favour and would be rewarded with a pair of PP goals from Adil Patel and Nistas. The clock began to become the Titans enemy and with six minutes left the series looked to be coming to an end. The Titans, through one of their new young stars, Nick Lombardi whacks in a rebound and the Titans had cut the lead in half. Just two minutes later on the PP Captain Jason Arruda levels the game at two and we were in for a frantic finish. Both teams seemed poised to end the game in regulation and the Hitmen were awarded a late PP but the Titans penalty killers did their jobs. The Hitmen would get a break as Jay Fleet would break in alone with less than a minute left but Cruz like he has all season turned him away. The ensuing rebound went out to Vic Goncalves who found Mike Campea coming off the bench and he hit him in stride with a tape to tape pass and Campea found himself in all alone. He beat Sam Riggi high on the glove side and the Titans had their first lead of the game at 3-2, with only fifteen seconds left. The Hitmen forced one last offensive zone face off to no avail the Titans killed the remaining time and then began celebrating their game three victory. This is a game of inches and I must replay one play in game three that eventually led to the Titans victory. With the Hitmen on a PP and holding a 2-0 lead defencemen Lui Caruso finds the ball on his stick with Cruz caught on the wrong side of his net and on his stomach. Many spectators including myself who were watching from behind the Titans goal were certain that the Hitmen would increase their lead to 3-0 and defuse any sort of comeback that the Titans may have had in mind. Cruz rolling on his stomach and back somehow threw this glove up and snared the ball before it could cross the goal line. Caruso could do nothing but stare at the Heavens and ask how he didn’t just score. A game of inches and luck had just turned the way of Titans.
I would like to congratulate Remo Settimo and the entire Toronto Titans Ball Hockey Club on the 2013 Downsview Park Tier 2 Fall Championship. and earnign the right to represent Ontario at the 2014 'B' National Championships in July 2014.
To all the teams, players, coaching staff and fans that participated in the Fall season I would like to congratulate and thank you all for your continued support and dedication. I look forward to seeing you all in the Winter season as we will have one of the biggest Tier 2 division to date where eleven teams will battle for the coveted title of being crowned Downsview Park Tier 2 Champions.
Tier 2 Commissioner