On July 6th, 7th and 8th, the Niagara Ball Hockey Club was host to the annual Gateway to the Worlds ball hockey tournament that is a precursor to the World Outdoor Ball Hockey Championships in Barrie, ON. This year featured a stacked Men's B/C division with 12 teams all trying to win their entry fee to the big event in September.
The round robin portion of the event saw strong teams put up great performances and a few underdogs pull off upsets over better ranked teams. The Southwest Cowboys, who featured a slew of Team Great Britain players lost two of their three games, one to a strong Hamilton Outlaws team 1-0 and the other to Two Yellow Teams, who were probably the biggest surprise of the whole tournament, 5-4 but still punched enough points to get through to the elimination games. The 2016 WOBHC Men's C Champs, Barrie Maple Kings went 2-0-1 in the round robin and looked fairly dominant heading into championship Sunday. Two Hamilton teams brought out a lot of talent as the Outlaws went a perfect 3-0 in the round robin and the Ducks dropped their first game but finished with two dominating 7-2 and 7-1 wins to secure their spots. The Niagara Falls Thunder, another team loaded with tonnes of talent, squeaked into the elimination games going 1-1-1 in the early games. The Hamilton Knights and Barrie Blue Line Bandits were the other two teams to make it into the Quarterfinals on Sunday.
The first round of elimination games saw Two Yellow Teams continue their Cinderalla run by knocking out the Knights with a 4-3 win, Southwest Cowboys pull off a huge 4-3 Overtime win over the undefeated Outlaws, Niagara Falls Thunder just get by with a 5-4 win over the Maple Kings and the Ducks continue their domination with a 6-0 win over the Blue Line Bandits to setup the semifinal matchups.
In the Semis, Southwest Cowboys were rolling and ended the Two Yellow Teams run with a bruising 4-0 win while the Niagara Falls Thunder really started to come together as a team and shot down the Ducks with a 4-1 victory.
The final was full of talent and was a hard fought battle by both teams, but the home town faves, Niagara Falls Thunder just couldn't keep up with the Cowboys as they rolled over them with a 4-1 win to take the Gateway Championship.