SOURCE:  Beacon Herald Staff, Published Apr 10, 2023

Stratford Warriors Claim the Cherrey Cup with 3-1 Win

With the 4-2 series win over the Kitchener-Waterloo Siskins, the Warriors advance to the Sutherland Cup’s round robin.

The Stratford Warriors punched their ticket to the Sutherland Cup championships with a 3-1 win against the Kitchener-Waterloo Siskins on Friday, April 7, 2023.

The Warriors weathered a determined Siskins team, which fired 40 shots on net in an increasingly frantic game. Desperate to extend the series in front of a hometown crowd of 2,200, the Siskins outshot the Warriors by a two-to-one margin in the final 20 minutes of Friday’s tilt.

Stratford netminder Owen Willmore, though, was again the team’s MVP in this series-ending game, making 39 saves to backstop his team to the Cherrey Cup. Since the beginning of the post-season, WIllmore has been almost unbeatable, boasting a 9-2 record, a 1.93 goals against average and a sparkling 0.944 save percentage.

While Kitchener’s Will Elliott scored midway through the final frame, that was all of the offence Kitchener could muster – and it wasn’t enough to erase Stratford’s second-period scoring. The Warriors scored three goals in the frame, starting with an early Zach Hatch marker. Patrick Cole doubled the lead six minutes later before captain Zac McCann put the game out of reach with a power-play goal.

Reid Oliver was key to Stratford’s second-period surge, earning his 17th and 18th assists of the post-season on the Hatch and Cole goals.

With the 4-2 Midwestern Conference series win, the Warriors will now face the Leamington Flyers and the Hamilton Kilty B’s – the other conference champions – in a home-and-home round robin to determine the finalists for the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Sutherland Cup.