To moving to next round of provincial playdowns
By Pat Payton
Two SMMHA teams–the Firefighter ‘BB’ Peewees and Dunny’s Source for Sports A-E Atoms–took one step closer to advancing to the next OMHA playoff round last Monday night at the PRC.
In the pivotal Game 3 of their series, three unanswered second-period goals were key for the Firefighter Peewees in a 5-3 victory over Strathroy Jr. Rockets. The win gave Dwain Smith’s squad a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five set.
Game 4 was Thursday in Strathroy, and a win would give Firefighters a berth in the provincial quarter-finals. If the series goes the limit, Game 5 is this Sunday at the PRC, starting at 5:15 p.m.
Pair leads comeback
In Monday’s game, forwards Owen Boyd and Ryan Hodkinson sparked the Firefighters’ comeback with two goals apiece.
St. Marys defenceman Ethan Brine opened the scoring on a powerplay at 4:46 of the first period from Rourke McEwan and Peyton Lobb. However, Jr. Rockets were quick to respond. The visitors tied it just 36 seconds later, and then grabbed the lead on a powerplay 66 seconds after that.
Firefighters got their offence untracked in the second period. Strathroy took four of the five minor penalties in the period, giving the Rock lots of powerplay time. Centreman Hodkinson tied the score 2-2 at 7:52, tipping home a point shot on a powerplay. McEwan and affiliate player Nate Schiedel drew assists.
St. Marys goalie Carter Froggett made a couple of big stops after that, keeping the score deadlocked. Boyd then forced a turnover and put the home ahead to stay at 11:12. Just 52 seconds after that, Hodkinson netted what proved to be the winner–tapping home a loose puck in the crease. Assists went to Lobb and Brine.
Jr. Rockets closed the gap to 4-3 early in the third, but Boyd restored a two-goal advantage for Firefighters at 7:31 when he stole the puck and then neatly picked the corner on the Strathroy goalie. RJ Martin assisted.
Jr. Rockets pulled their netminder in the final minute for an extra attacker, but strong checking by St. Marys didn’t allow them to get a single shot.
“We came out flat in the first period,” coach Smith said in his post-game summary. “We weren’t getting the puck out of our end, and we were giving them scoring chances.
“We regrouped between the first and second, and we started putting everything on net. We started playing our game in the second and third, and getting the puck in deep.
“Strathroy is a good team, and we don’t take them lightly. It’s good to get everybody back in the line-up because we’re going to need everyone.”
Solid team effort
The Dunny’s Atoms won their fifth consecutive OMHA game in their round-robin series last Monday, defeating Mt. Brydges Cougars 6-2. Captain Ty Wheeler and Jonah Lariviere paced the Rock attack with two goals apiece.
Goals by Wheeler and Lariviere staked St. Marys to a 2-0 first-period lead. Wheeler scored the only goal of the middle frame, tipping in a point shot just 37 seconds into the period.
The Dunny’s crew extended their lead to 5-0 early in the third as Connor Wheeler fired a powerplay goal and Lariviere connected for a shorthanded marker. Just 25 seconds after the Lariviere goal, the Cougars finally beat Rock goalie Isaac Cousineau on a powerplay.
After Simon Greig made it 6-1 midway through the period, Mt. Brydges completed the scoring with just over two minutes remaining.
Lariviere and Connor Wheeler both finished the game with three points. Greig, Ty Wheeler, Nathan Wolfkamp and Connor Hall all contributed two points apiece.
“At International Silver Stick this year, that loss to Lambeth (in the final) kind of deflated the boys,” head coach Sean Porter said. “Since then, we’ve come back with a real fire in the last five games and it’s nice to see. We have a real desire to go deep in the playoffs, and we’re just letting them play.”
Porter says the coaching staff reminds the team to do three things before every game.
“We ask them to keep their feet moving, be first on the puck, and not lose battles along the boards,” he says. “And we come back and help out in our own end.”
Assistant coach Jared Frayne agreed that the team stresses strong defensive play in their own zone. “We know that we can put the puck in the net, but good defence wins games,” Frayne said. “And it’s paying off big time for us. Our goal is to win it all.”
In their five playoff games to date, the Dunny’s Atoms have out-scored their opposition 23-4. Dorchester Dragons and Petrolia Oilers are the other two teams taking part in the round-robin format. St. Marys plays its final game Sunday in Petrolia at 2:50 p.m.
Foodland Novices tie Sabres
In another OMHA playoff game at the PRC last Monday, the Stonetown Foodland A-E Novices skated to a 1-1 tie with South Huron Sabres.
Ben Ewing’s unassisted, third-period goal gave St. Marys the tie. Sabres had opened the scoring in the first period.
It was the sixth game of the OMHA round-robin playoffs for Dan Murrell’s squad, leaving them with a 2-2-2 record. In their next home game, the Rock team hosts Mt. Brydges Cougars on Monday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m.