It takes time, meticulous planning and a total group effort to become a Champion at any level of play. The North York Hitmen led by the architect Angelo Gaetano slowly and methodically put all the pieces of the puzzle together leading his club to the 2014 Premier Championship. Every great leader needs assistance and Pat Ventullo was pivotal in making sure that the plans laid by Gaetano were followed by the players. In a series that had the fans at the edge of their seats the North York Hitmen were able to outlast the reigning Premier Summer Champions Brampton Express in a do or die game three.
Game three was highlighted by a memorial service for one of our greatest members ever Robert Mentis who sadly had passed away two weeks earlier. The class and support shown by over three hundred friends, family and alumni shows the respect Bobby had garnered as a person and competitor.
In a quick recap of the series game one was won on an overtime marker from Express leader James Mentis as he faked a slap shot into the corner and readjusts his hips to fire a low hard shot past a flat footed Dave Clark in the Hitmen goal making the final 3-2. In game two the Hitmen saw themselves trailing after one period but goals from Jonathan Pulicicchio and the game winner from Michael Battaglia forced a deciding game three as the Hitmen come away with a 3-2 win.
After an emotional opening ceremony the game was ready to commence as the seats were filled and the fans were ready for another exciting game between these two newest rivals. The scoring would be opened by the Hitmen at the 15:09 mark of the first period as a sharp angle Tyson Dileo shot finds its way past David DiGironimo in the Express goal and the Hitmen had drawn first blood. Through hard work and a tenacious fore-check the Express would level the score as Daniel Ponce was left open in the slot and a Chris Morrison pass finds its mark and Ponce fires high to the glove side past a screened Clark and the game was suddenly tied. Back and forth action ensued and the goaltenders were up to the task as the game looked destined for overtime. As the teams looked poised to play tight defence and not give up any good scoring chances the Hitmen gained a territorial edge as they forced a face off deep in the Express end. With just over two minutes left this turned out to be a crucial moment in the game. A clean faceoff win by Mike Battaglia to Anthony Novia who cut in from the boards and around the faceoff dot his quick shot finds the far side of the net behind DiGironimo and the Hitmen suddenly found themselves ahead and with only 2:08 left to play and a Championship within reach.
The final seconds would tick down and Clark was called upon to make a game saving save late as the buzzer sounded and the trek for the Hitmen had ended in jubilation. After years of planning it all came to fruition as the Hitmen hoisted the Premier Championship Cup for the summer season for the first time in their storied history. For his outstanding play throughout the playoffs Michael Battaglia was named Playoff MVP. By capturing the 2014 Championship the Hitmen have won a trio of Premier titles in secession, the Fall/Winter season, the Premier Pre Season Tournament and the Premier 2014 Summer title.
Congratulations to the North York Hitmen Ball Hockey Club on an outstanding year of accomplishments.