Legion Minor Midgets hitting their stride

Team goes 2-1-1 in recent four-game stretch

By Pat Payton

Special to the Independent

Coach Owen Penney thinks his Royal Canadian Legion Minor Midgets are hitting their stride at the right time of the season.

After a couple of losses to start the month of December, the Legion Rock recently went 2-1-1 in four Tri-County ‘A’ League games. In that four-game stretch, St. Marys tied the first-place team and defeated the fourth-place club to improve its overall record to 9-9-4. The Legion now has 22 points after 22 games, leaving them in the middle of the 13-team Smith Division standings.

Coach Penney gave reasons for his team’s recent surge.

“At practices, we’ve been working on our special teams,” he said. “And we’re forcing the other team’s defence, which is causing turnovers and creating offensive opportunities for us.

“I also think the heart and intensity are picking up with a lot of the kids at this time of year. Physically and mentally, they’re always ready to play. They’re bringing everything they have on every single shift. They’re more engaged in the games than they were earlier in the season.”

Penney describes his squad as a good-skating, puck-moving team. “A lot of these kids have played together for a long time and they’re familiar with each other. It gives us an advantage in the league.

“We’re a big team, and a lot of teams don’t want to engage us physically.”

St. Marys 3 – Oakville Red 1

Last Sunday night on home ice, the Legion Minor Midgets turned in a solid 45-minute effort in a 3-1 victory over the fourth-place Oakville Rangers Red.

The teams came out and set a quick pace from the opening face-off.

Eric Taylor gave St. Marys an early 1-0 lead, connecting at 3:40 of the first period from Blake Boreham and captain Owen Hartman. Oakville tied it at the 12:53 mark, but Matt Payette scored what proved to be the winner with just 47 seconds left in the opening frame. Assists went to Hartman and Ben Martens.

Legion goalie Alex Martens took the spotlight in the second period, making a number of big stops to keep his team in front. Finally, with just 42 remaining in the period, Ben Martens gave the home team a big insurance goal. Payette and Josh McCurdy earned assists.

Rangers pushed to close the gap in the third, but each time netminder Martens had an answer. With 2:20 left, the visitors pulled their goalie for a 6-on-4 powerplay advantage. For about a minute, Oakville also had a 6-on-3 man advantage, but the Rock did a good job of penalty-killing.

“That Oakville team is one of the top teams in the league,” coach Penney said after the game. “We’re definitely turning it around at the right time.”

St. Marys 8 – Hespeler 0

At the PRC on Wednesday, Dec. 13, Sam Watt and Matt Payette each fired a pair of goals for the Legion Minor Midgets in a convincing 8-0 victory over the Hespeler Shamrocks.

Watt also earned an assist for a three-point night.

Scoring the singles for the home team were Blake Boreham, George Hensel (powerplay), Aiden Aarts and Ben Martens. The playmakers were defenceman Owen Hartman and Lake Taylor, both with three assists, and Sam Bolton with a pair of helpers.

Goalie Jake Bryans earned the shutout for St. Marys, which built period leads of 2-0 and 4-0.

Both sides took three minor penalties.

St. Marys 3 – Woolwich 3

In a home game Dec. 10, the Legion Minor Midgets skated to a 3-3 tie against the first-place Woolwich Wildcats.

The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period and Woolwich held a 2-1 edge after 30 minutes.

In the third period, goals by Eric Taylor (powerplay) and Thomas Kiestra—just 68 seconds apart midway through the frame—put St. Marys in front 3-2. The visitors pulled out the tie with a goal with just under four minutes to play.

Josh McCurdy scored the first-period goal for the Rock. Connor Aarts drew assists on all three Legion markers, while Matt Payette and Lake Taylor picked up single helpers.

Wildcats took five of the eight minor penalties.

Notes:

–The Legion Minor Midgets have two games remaining before the Christmas break. They travel to Brampton tonight (Dec. 22) to play the 45s at 8:30 p.m., and then host Caledon Hawks on Saturday at 2 p.m.

–Penney and company are also entered in an ‘A’-calibre tournament in Hespeler just after Christmas.

–When OMHA playoffs roll around early in the New Year, the Legion Midgets will compete at the ‘BB’ level.

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