G&CC Atoms complete sweep of Jr. Rockets

Win OMHA series in overtime last Friday night at PRC

By Pat Payton

They say the hardest game to win is the one when your opponent is facing elimination.

The Golf and Country Club ‘BB’ Atoms found that out last Friday night at the PRC. Strathroy Jr. Rockets came to town down 2-0 in a best-of-five OMHA playoff series and needed at least a tie to stay alive.

The Rockets put up a valiant fight, and pushed the game to overtime. But a goal in the first minute of extra time lifted the home-town Rock to a 2-1 victory and a berth in the provincial quarter-finals.

The hard-fought win gave Dan Schiedel’s squad the series in three straight games. It was a fast-paced, well-played game in front of a big crowd.

“I thought that was the best game Strathroy played all series,” coach Schiedel told the Independent. “They came at us hard, from the start of the first period right to the end. It was probably the grittiest game that they played against us.”

Both goalies play well

Both goaltenders–the Rock’s Cyler Pickering and the Rockets’ Riley Fickling–took the spotlight, making timely saves to keep their team in the low-scoring affair.

St. Marys defenceman Grayson Boreham finally broke a 0-0 stalemate just 18 seconds into the second period on a powerplay. After taking a pass from Griffin McGregor, Boreham broke into the clear and his shot found a hole in Fickling’s armour. Just over three minutes later, Strathroy’s Brody Masterman also scored from close range to tie it.

Both sides looked for the go-ahead goal early in the third, but the goalies stood tall. A strong forechecking attack helped the Rock generate four great chances in the first three minutes.

It was still 1-1 when regulation time ended, setting the stage for a 10-minute overtime period. Just 22 seconds into extra time, centre Nate Schiedel scored the winner, unassisted, when his centring pass was inadvertently tipped into the Rockets’ net by a Strathroy defender.

“I thought we played hard for most of the game,” coach Schiedel said. “We had a couple of lapses in the second period, and Strathroy had a couple of good chances. In the third, we had some good chances to break the tie, but the Strathroy goalie played well.

“Obviously when you get to overtime, anything can happen.”

Schiedel didn’t think his team took the Jr. Rockets lightly, after winning 7-2 in Strathroy in Game 2.

“We’ve had some good battles with Strathroy all year, especially in our rink,” he said. “They’ve always played us well here; the games have been tight. And tonight, we knew it was going to be a tight-checking game and it was.

“In overtime, we didn’t want to change our style. We wanted to be relentless and hard on the puck and put pressure on their defence. We created a turnover and put the puck on net.

“On any shot in overtime, you have a chance, and we got a lucky bounce. We’ve told the kids all year, good things will happen if you put pucks on net.”

Notes:

–The G&CC Atoms have now won six straight games in the OMHA playdowns. They have out-scored their opponents 26-11 to date. “But the games haven’t been easy,” coach Schiedel noted. “Sometimes the scores don’t indicate that. If we can play all three periods, that’s when we’re at our best.”

–St. Marys will face either Erin-Hillsburgh Devils or Tillsonburg Tornadoes in the next OMHA round. Erin-Hillsburgh held a 2-0 series lead after weekend action.

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