Listowel CyclonesA picture worth a million words. Your 2023-24 Cherrey Cup champion Listowel Cyclones. April 12, 2024 (Photo by Ryan Drury)

"It never gets old!" Listowel Cyclones are Cherrey Cup Champs

The Listowel Cyclones are back.

Back at the top of the Midwestern Conference of the GOJHL. Back in the hearts and minds of the entire Listowel community, though they never really left. Back at the forefront of great teams that win. Did this team ever do a lot of that en route to the fourth Cherrey Cup in team history.

The Cyclones beat the Stratford Warriors 5-2 in game 5 of the final on Friday, April 12. Game 4 of the series was the only game Listowel lost as they stormed through the playoffs like an angry tornado. They swept Caledon and Ayr, respectively, in rounds 1 and 2 before taking a 3-0 series lead on the Warriors. Stratford managed to battle back on home ice in game 4 with a desperate 3-1 win, but Listowel would allow them to come no closer.

Stratford opened the scoring in game 5 with a beautiful setup to Rookie of the Year, Carson Harmer. Listowel would answer back quickly with two strikes just over 2 and a half minutes apart, the first off a beauty toe drag effort from Ben MacRobbie, the second coming off a turnover right to Tanner Dietz in the slot who made no mistake beating former Cyclone Carter McDougall. The score would have looked very different if not for some huge early saves by Dixon Grimes.

Quick sidebar. McDougall was awesome in this series. The former Cyclone was forced to step in for the whole series after starter Matthew Perdue unfortunately came down with appendicitis literally the day before the series. McDougall faced a lot of rubber in the series, including 51 shots in game 5, and he kept his team right in the fight. That whole Warriors team will be a handful for years to come. They're young, fast, and extremely well coached by Dave Williams and co.

On to the second period, where the Cylones suffocated Stratford and flexed their defensive muscles. Another goal would come as Tanner Dietz was hauled down from behind on a shorthanded breakaway. Dietz would be awarded a penalty shot, and he would pull off a brilliant move, snaking wide right before going backhand-forehand around McDougall into the top corner blocker side. I believe that's what many of us media types call "top cheese", but I've always preferred the term "cheddar shredder", and that's what it was. A move so smooth it'd made Pavel Datstyuk blush. 3-1 Listy.

To the third, where the physicality ramped up as Stratford tried all they could to keep their season alive. Listowel's "fourth" line, which seems an off way to term them given how great all the lines are, went out and got a big insurance marker 1:14 in when Tate Brenner finished off a great passing play with a tip-in at the goal mouth from Captain Carter Coombs. You could practically hear the Steve Kerr Memorial breathe a sigh of relief. Stratford would get one back, with a PP rocket from Brayden Stumpf with just under 8 minutes left. Coombs would finish it off into the empty net, catching McDougall leaving the net early before the Warriors got the puck deep.

As the final seconds ticked away, I couldn't help looking down the bench and staring at familiar faces who have returned to the team as coaches with this goal in mind. There was Holdyn Lansink, the franchise's all-time leading scorer and emotional heartbeat, pacing wildly, unable to contain his intensity. No one is more fun to be around than "Lanny". I am so happy for him.

There was Luke Israel, a player who finished his junior days in Listy, and is one of the most genuine, kind-hearted dudes you'll ever come across in the game. Few people can bring his mix of consistent positivity and intense teaching and communication to a bench. Constantly going up and down, telling everyone what they did right before pointing out adjustments.

Of course, there's Jesse Cole, an assistant to Jason Brooks when the Cyclones won back-to-back Cherrey Cups in 2017 and 2018, and the Sutherland in '18, too. Jesse took over as GM for a period of time, and has served as head coach since Brooksy departed, instilling the values and systems that Jason implemented with his own stamp on consistent excellence all over the ice. There are few coaches I've come across who are as easy going to deal with from a media perspective, consistently allowing Steve Sabourin, Johnny K and myself unfettered access to the group and himself all the time, anytime. You did it Coler, now calm down, bud.

The post game celebrations were exuberant, loud and a lot of fun. To be on the ice and talk to these guys after such an incredible run is so rewarding. That's what we get out of it as broadcasters. It's why Steve spends the year blowing his throat out, clinging to a voice that reaches new decibel levels every year. It's why JK drives all over the place to get on the mic with Steve and share insights from a coaching perspective that many of us don't see. It's why I keep coming back to these rinks and these teams, after all these years with the last few spent in an OHL booth, to see these moments and share the reactions at ice level. We love this sport. We love the leagues we cover, and we love the people.

Speaking of the OHL, one of the more special moments for me was waving over Dixon Grimes after the win. Dix is one of the best kids in hockey. An overtly humble young man who doesn't want to take credit for anything, even when he's heroic like the first period of game 5, a game where he made 31 stops. When he made the Guelph Storm for a time during his career, it was a big deal for him being from the area. It was also my first year involved with the Storm Rogers TV crew on a full-time basis. I was so thrilled for Dix that he was on the bench, as I knew someone a little more than I knew anyone else around the team. We chatted a few times about how cool it was that we both found ourselves in the Royal City, chasing our dreams. Doubly cool to talk to him and share a little moment after he returned to Listowel with one goal in mind. Congrats Dix. No one deserves this more, pal.

How about this team? From Tanner Dietz, who had a whale of a game with his dad Kory, the team's head scout, watching at ice level. That smile won't wear off for a good while, eh Dietzy? The big unit of brothers Luke and Mason Eurig with Wylie Birkett. A line that could run you over physically just as well as they could cause a turnover and go shelf before you even knew something was wrong. Jack O'Donnell, Ben MacRobbie and Tanner Dietz, flying around suffocating other team's forwards and creating scoring chances from nothing. Harrison Meulensteen, Cam McNevan and Brady Smith, with all the size and skill you could possibly squeeze onto one unit. The grind line led by Captain Coombs, Tate Brenner and Chet Hudson. No line in hockey works harder than them. Defenders will have nightmares about that forecheck for years. Dylan Szymanowski, an extremely talented young forward who didn't see a ton of ice in the final, adding so much speed and skill when he is in the lineup, and adding nothing but positivity and a good attitude towards everyone around when he's not.

The D-core, with Benson Moore and Jordan Alexander sweeping pucks away from danger, and putting forwards that come near their net right into danger with thunderous hits. Aiden Renaud looking like nothing ever bothers him, no matter the abuse thrown his way. Danny Scott, ending cycles and throwing shoulders around like it's the last shift he's ever gonna see. Keaton Middleton and Teague Vader, making smooth passes and jumping up into plays with veteran savvy. Wyatt Kerr, with a skill level through the roof, and Teegan Middleton, who never backs down from any challenge.

The impenetrable duo of Grimes and Riley Arts in goal. Is there a better 1-2 punch in the blue paint anywhere? Go find it, I'll wait.

Congratulations to the entire Listowel Cyclones organization. From the executive, right down through the coaches, the players, the fans and all the families involved. You all put so much work and dedication into the season. GM Trent McClement told me on my show Instigating with Clarkey and Drury, all the way back in September, that he thought they had put together a special group. Special doesn't seem enough to cover it now, eh Trent? As Holdyn Lansink screamed at me as we embraced for a big congratulatory hug, something we did 6 years ago when he was a player hoisting a Cherrey and a Sutherland Cup, "IT NEVER GETS OLD!"

No, Holdyn. It doesn't.

Finally, as Kory Dietz told me in my postgame interview live on CKNX AM920 and, "We're not done Drurs, we're not done!"

The Sutherland Cup playoffs await. But first, celebrate that Cherrey on top of a great season, fellas. Enjoy. I know I did.

(Ryan Drury is a CKNX Jr. Hockey contributor and has covered the GOJHL and PJHL since 2015)

Listowel CyclonesThe explosion. The Listowel Cyclones pile onto goaltender Dixon Grimes after winning the Cherrey Cup. April 12, 2024 (Photo by Ryan Drury)

Listowel CyclonesA tradition like no other. The Listowel Cyclones and Stratford Warriors shake hands following a hard fought Cherrey Cup Final. April 12, 2024 (Photo by Ryan Drury)

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