By Pat Payton
STRATHROY – The ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams faced a must-win situation on Wednesday night at home after losing 3-2 in overtime here Tuesday (Jan. 16) in the pivotal third game of their best-of-five OMHA playoff series with Strathroy Jr. Rockets.
It was the third straight one-goal decision in the series, and the Rockets’ win gave them a 2-1 lead in games.
In Tuesday’s game, Brandon Boyd’s squad held a 2-1 lead until the Jr. Rockets tied it late in the third period to force a 10-minute overtime period. Early in the extra session, the home team scored the winner.
In regulation time, captain Nathan Reay scored the first St. Marys goal. Jacob Boyd tipped home Reay’s shot for the visitors’ second tally.
“It was one of our better efforts,” coach Boyd reported. “We tried to play a conservative game to shut down their two big guns.
“Once we got our lead, we tried to negate their offence, but they snuck home a nice high shot late in the third. Then the momentum changed and Strathroy capitalized in overtime.”
If necessary, Game 5 is tonight (Friday, Jan. 19) in Strathroy at 8 p.m.
Lapse proves costly
In Game 2 on Wednesday (Jan. 10) at the PRC, a short lapse early in the third period proved costly for the ANAF Bantams as they dropped a 4-3 decision to Strathroy.
The Rock had the better chances in the first period, but Rockets opened the scoring late in the frame on a powerplay. Following the goal, St. Marys netminder Nolan Shackleton made a big stop to keep his team within striking distance.
Early in the middle frame, the ANAF crew erased the 1-0 deficit with two quick goals. Ben Richardson and Jacob Boyd connected just 47 seconds apart to put the home team in front. Shackleton again rose to the occasion late in the period, making a huge pad save with just over two minutes remaining before the intermission break.
The game’s turning point came early in the third as Strathroy struck for two goals before the five-minute mark of the period to grab the lead for good. The visitors added another goal with just under five minutes to play. With Shackleton on the bench for an extra attacker, Wensley Bosse pulled St. Marys to within a goal with 1:17 remaining, but that’s as close as the home team would get.
Following the game, ANAF coach Boyd said his team needs more production from its powerplay units.
“It’s two evenly-matched teams, and we really have to start taking advantage of our powerplay opportunities,” Boyd said. “I think we’re 0-for-5 in the first two games, and we haven’t generated much.
“Tonight, we had about a five-minute stretch where we collapsed. A couple of bad bounces, and Strathroy capitalized on their chances. They have a couple of offensive threats, and our defence has to make sure we don’t get dazzled by them and neutralize them.
“Going forward, if we can capitalize on our powerplay, we should be okay. But this is a series that could go the distance,” he added.
The ANAF Bantams opened the best-of-five OMHA series the previous night (Jan. 9) in Strathroy, emerging with a 2-1 win over the Jr. Rockets.
G&CC Atoms up 2-0
Dan Schiedel’s Golf and Country Club ‘BB’ Atoms opened a best-of-five OMHA series in Mt. Brydges on Saturday, Jan. 6, skating to a 5-1 victory over the Cougars.
Jayden Tipping and Nate Schiedel paced the Rock attack with two goals apiece. One of Tipping’s goals came on a powerplay. Tipping also earned a pair of assists for a four-point outing. Defenceman Trevor Richardson had the other St. Marys goal, while Evan Ballantyne was the playmaker with three assists.
Cyler Pickering picked up the net win for the visitors, who built period leads of 3-0 and 4-1.
In Game 2 on Monday, Jan. 8 in St. Marys, the G&CC Atoms took a commanding 2-0 series lead with a 6-3 win.
Centreman Nate Schiedel sparked the Rock attack with a hat trick. He also added an assist for a four-point night. Callum McIntosh added a pair of goals, while Hayden Brintnell had the single. George Payne chipped in a pair of assists.
Julian Walsh earned the net win for St. Marys, which took a 3-1 lead into the third period.
Game 3 was Wednesday in St. Marys. Game 4, if necessary, is Friday, Jan. 19 in Mt. Brydges.