Both teams face stiff competition in provincial semi-finals
By Pat Payton
The Golf and Country Club Atoms and the Firefighter Peewees face some tough OMHA playoff hockey this coming weekend, March 3 and 4. But both well-coached teams are certainly up to the challenge!
After starting their provincial semi-final series this past weekend, the ‘BB’ Atoms and Peewees are tied 1-1 in their respective best-of-five sets.
Both teams are on the road this Saturday for Game 3, and then host games Sunday at the PRC as they battle to gain a berth in the OMHA ‘BB’ finals.
In the series opener this past Saturday in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Dan Schiedel’s G&CC Atoms fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to defeat the home-town Wolves 2-1.
Wolves opened the scoring in the first minute of the second period, but the Rock refused to quit. Late in the period, centre Nate Schiedel put St. Marys ahead with two goals–just over a minute apart. Defenceman Adam Turner assisted on both tallies.
The final 15 went scoreless. For an Atom game, it was a feisty affair as the teams combined for 15 minor penalties. There were eight minors whistled in the third.
Julian Walsh picked up the net win.
“It was another back-and-forth game,” coach Dan Schiedel reported. “We scored on our chances and we played well defensively in the third. And Julian Walsh played well in net to hold them to just the one goal.”
Two evenly-matched teams
In front of a big crowd Sunday afternoon at the PRC, Game 2 was also a hard-fought battle between two evenly-matched teams. Two third-period goals were the difference as the NOTL Wolves tied the series with a 4-2 victory.
The Atom Rock got off to a great start with Jayden Tipping scoring from Nate Schiedel just 27 seconds into the contest. Thirty-five seconds into the middle frame, Wolves tied it 1-1.
After both teams hit goal-posts, the Rock and the visitors traded goals late in the period. After Tipping connected directly off a Schiedel face-off win at 10:15, NOTL tied it 2-2 on a powerplay just under two minutes later.
With 4:40 remaining in the third, St. Marys was handed a tripping penalty. Wolves took advantage and fired the game winner with 3:30 left on the clock. With 1:20 remaining, a NOTL player was sent off with a tripping penalty. Coach Schiedel also pulled Walsh for a sixth attacker. However, a favourable bounce allowed Wolves to score an empty-netter just 10 seconds later.
“It was an even battle out there,” Dan Schiedel said afterwards. “We were playing well, but we let our foot off the gas–especially in the third period. I thought they played a little grittier.
“But I don’t think there’s no much difference between the two teams. Today, they played a little more desperate than our guys; they didn’t want to go down 2-0. But our guys have been resilient all year, and we just need to be a little more consistent on the forecheck.
“We just have to get back to the basics and play with lots of energy. It’s about getting back to what’s made us successful all year.”
The pivotal third game is this Saturday in Niagara-on-the-Lake at 11:50 a.m. Game 4 is Sunday back at the PRC at 12:25 p.m. If necessary, Game 5 is in NOTL Tuesday, March 6 at 7:10 p.m.
Dwain Smith’s Firefighter Peewees are faced with the same scenario, hoping to win a big game on the road this Saturday.
In the series opener Saturday night at the PRC, centre Ryan Hodkinson’s goal with 2:33 to play snapped a 2-2 tie and lifted Firefighters to a 3-2 victory over the Pelham Panthers. Linemate Peyton Lobb assisted.
The teams traded second-period goals, with Owen Boyd scoring for St. Marys from Ian Boyd and Rourke McEwan. After Pelham took a 2-1 lead midway through the third, Jaden Shiell tied it again with 5:06 to play from Lobb.
In Game 2 Sunday afternoon in Port Colborne, Panthers tied the series with a 4-2 win. Their final goal was into an empty St. Marys net in the dying seconds.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period, and 2-2 going into the final 15 minutes. Pelham got the winner midway through the third.
Rourke McEwan and Ryan Hodkinson scored for St. Marys, with Jaden Shiell assisting on both goals.
“We played a good game of hockey, but we’re up against a good team . . . we’re in a series,” coach Smith said. “We out-shot them and we out-chanced them, and we hit two crossbars down there.
“But I tip my hat to Pelham; they came to play and we did, too. Pelham has three lines, and they’re a good skating team. They’re on the forecheck all the time. But I think they’re beatable.”
Game 3 is this Saturday in Pelham at 4:10 p.m. Game 4 is back in St. Marys the following day at 5:15 p.m.