Rock sidelines Devils, will now meet NOTL Wolves
By Pat Payton
Offence wins games and defence wins championships, the old adage says.
The Golf and Country Club ‘BB’ Atoms earned a berth in the provincial semi-finals with a pair of strong defensive efforts this past weekend.
At the PRC Sunday, Dan Schiedel’s squad skated to a 4-1 victory over Erin-Hillsburgh Devils to take the best-of-five OMHA quarter-final playoff series in four games.
The previous afternoon in Erin-Hillsburgh, the G&CC Atoms got a balanced scoring attack and shutout goaltending from Cyler Pickering in a convincing 7-0 win over the Devils.
“Our goaltending and defence were really solid the last two games,” coach Schiedel said following Sunday’s game. “I think that was the difference, and we scored some timely goals.”
Schiedel and company will now meet Niagara-on-the-Lake Wolves in the OMHA semi-finals, likely beginning this weekend. Wolves swept Thorold Blackhawks 3-0 in the quarters, with all three wins by one goal.
St. Marys 4 – Erin-Hillsburgh 1
In St. Marys last Sunday, coach Schiedel said his team likely didn’t have its ‘A’ game, but it was enough to beat a Devils’ team that went out with a valiant fight.
There was no scoring until the final minute of the first period when Rock centre Colton Henderson picked the corner on a solo rush.
It was Pickering’s turn to shine in the middle frame, making several big stops to keep his team in front. One was from point-blank range after an Erin-Hillsburgh player broke in alone. Finally, at the 9:39 mark, Oliver McHugh made it 2-0 after a beautiful set-up by Nate Schiedel.
It stayed that way until Schiedel connected from a scramble at 6:36 of the third from McHugh and Hayden Brintnell. Just under two minutes later, Devils finally got a puck behind Pickering–closing the gap to 3-1.
With 3:25 left on the clock, a desperate Erin-Hillsburgh team pulled its goalie for a sixth attacker. With 2:11 remaining, Jayden Tipping sealed it with an empty-net breakaway goal from Griffin McGregor.
Coach Schiedel thought it was the Devils’ best game of the entire series.
“We didn’t have our best today, but we played hard and found a way to get the job done,” he said. “Erin-Hillsburgh is a gritty team. We knew they would fight tooth and nail to the end today. Our defence shut them down, Cyler was solid in net and we got some timely goals. I think that was the key to our success.”
Added veteran assistant coach Ken Schiedel: “I thought we got good goaltending today from Pickering.”
St. Marys 7 – Erin Hillsburgh 0
In the pivotal Game 3 Saturday in Erin-Hillsburgh, the G&CC Atoms broke open a close affair with four unanswered second-period goals. Two of the goals came just 42 seconds apart, and the outburst gave the visitors a commanding 5-0 lead.
Forwards Nate Schiedel and Griffin McGregor paced the St. Marys attack with two goals apiece, while the singles came off the sticks of Jayden Tipping, Evan Ballantyne (powerplay) and defenceman Grayson Boreham. Hayden Brintnell was the playmaker, collecting three assists.
“We scored a couple of goals early in the second period, and it seemed to give us a boost and a little confidence,” coach Schiedel reported. “Their goaltender was starting to fight the puck a little bit, but the guys played hard for all three periods.
“It was probably our best game of the entire series. We played with a lot of grit, and that’s what our team identity is. Being relentless on the puck, that’s when we’re at our best.”
Note: The G&CC Atoms played Niagara-on-the-Lake twice at Regional Silver Stick earlier this season and beat them both times.