Eliminate Jr. Rockets in four games, now meet Lincoln
By Pat Payton
STRATHROY – The Dunny’s Source for Sports A-E Atoms advanced to the provincial semi-finals here last Friday night, skating to a 5-2 victory over the Jr. Rockets.
The win gave Sean Porter’s squad the best-of-five OMHA quarter-final series three games to one. It was the Rock’s ninth win in 10 playoff games to date.
Captain Ty Wheeler and Simon Greig paced the St. Marys offence with two goals apiece. Sam Johnson had the single tally, and Trevor Aarts picked up the net win. Wheeler clinched it with an empty-netter with about a minute left.
“It was a close game into the third period,” coach Porter reported. “Strathroy stuck right with us; they’re a pesky team that won’t go away. But we got through them. I’m just glad it didn’t go five games, but it felt like a five-game series.”
The Dunny’s crew will now play Lincoln Blades in the provincial semi-finals. Game 2 is this Sunday in St. Marys at 3:45 p.m. Blades defeated Ayr Flames in five games in the quarters.
Strathroy 3 – St. Marys 2
Last Wednesday night at the PRC, it was another one-goal battle for the third straight game. The Dunny’s Atoms met a team facing elimination, and the desperate Jr. Rockets emerged with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory.
The Rock grabbed an early 1-0 lead when Sam Johnson connected with a high shot just 1:27 into the contest. Just over two minutes later, Strathroy tied it from a scramble.
St. Marys applied strong pressure early in the middle frame. It finally paid off at the 8:38 mark when Simon Greig broke in and beat the Jr. Rockets’ goalie with a low shot to the corner. At the other end of the ice, Dunny’s goalie Isaac Cousineau made a couple of big stops to keep his team in front.
Strathroy tied it 2-2 at 5:58 of the third, converting a 2-on-1 break. With eight minutes to play, the Rock went on a 5-on-3 powerplay for almost two full minutes. However, they couldn’t take advantage and the score remained deadlocked.
With 3:11 left on the clock, St. Marys picked up a slashing penalty. It proved to be costly as the Jr. Rockets scored 32 seconds into the powerplay.
Coach Porter pulled his goalie for a sixth attacker in the final minute, and the Rock had a couple of good chances, but the visitors held on.
After eight straight wins, it was the Dunny’s Atoms’ first loss of the OMHA playdowns.
“We knew playing Strathroy wasn’t going to be a walk in the park,” Porter said. “We have a series, but the boys are ready to go again Friday in Strathroy. It was just a couple of bad bounces tonight, but that’s hockey. Strathroy was looking at elimination, and they threw everything at us.”
Porter said his team just has to stick to its game plan going forward.
“We just have to keep doing what’s made us successful,” he said. “We have to play as a team and get the puck in deep, and work down low on these guys. We’ll try and take it to them on Friday night.
“We don’t want it to go to a Game 5. On Friday night in Strathroy, hopefully they will get everything we’ve got.”