Rock team continues to strive for consistency
By Pat Payton
Like a lot of hockey coaches, Robb McIntosh is looking for consistency with his St. Marys Minor Midget team, sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 236.
The Legion squad, comprised of all first-year Midgets, is a member of the Tri-County Minor Hockey League.
“We’re a good team; we’re a good group of athletes–right from our goalies to our defence and to our forwards,” McIntosh told the Independent recently. “We have 17 really good athletes and it translates well on the ice. We’re a good skating team, a good-sized team, and we’re competing well every night.”
Skating is probably the biggest strength of his hockey team, McIntosh points out. Playing the full 45 minutes is a goal the team continues to strive for.
“We can skate with anyone, but our biggest issue has been consistency within the game,” the coach says. “We’ve been starting games really well; the first periods have been great. But we usually have a lapse–late in the second or at the start of the third–and the other team pops in a couple on us. But other than that, we’ve been in every game.”
Coach pleased with recent play
Coach McIntosh has been pleased with his team’s recent play. In their last six league games, the Legion Midgets have won three, lost two and tied another and improved their overall Tri-County record to 6-7-2.
With a strong third period this past Sunday at the PRC, St. Marys pulled out a 2-2 tie with Oakville Rangers Blue (9-8-1), who are currently in first place in the league’s East Division.
Trailing 2-1 after two periods, Nathan Reay scored the equalizer for the Rock just 46 seconds into the third from Paolo Linares. It was Reay’s second of the night.
Goalie Aaron Waugh made the key stops when called upon, especially a couple in the second period which kept his team within striking distance. Mason Boonstra, a call-up from the ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams, played a solid game on the blue line.
“I really like how hard the guys are working,” coach McIntosh said following Sunday’s game. “We’re really working on communication and talking to each other, especially in our own end. We’re trusting our defencemen and wingers to do their jobs and that’s helped us do a better job on our defensive-zone coverage. That’s been the difference of late.
“Tonight, we came on a little stronger in the third, and our legs started to show in that final period. We had some nice chances, and we managed to get that one to tie it up.”
In a fast-paced home game Nov. 22, goals by Nathan Reay, affiliate player Ethan Froggett and Paolo Linares lifted the Legion Midgets to a well-deserved 3-0 victory over the Oakville Rangers Red. With four regulars out of the line-up, the Minor Midgets called up three players from the ANAF Bantams (Froggett, Keegan Nethercott and Mason Boonstra) and none looked out of place.
Goalie Nolan Shackleton played well for the Rock, making a couple of huge saves early in the third period to help preserve his shutout.
Sixteen teams in Smith division
Altogether, there are 16 teams in the Tri County’s Smith Minor Midget division.
St. Marys is one of eight teams in the West; the others are: Woolwich Wildcats, Centre Wellington Fusion, Guelph Gryphons, Flamborough Sabres, Owen Sound Jr. Attack, Ancaster Avalanche and New Hamburg Huskies.
The eight teams in the East are: Oakville Rangers Blue, Oakville Rangers Red, Brampton 45s, Halton Hills Thunder, Caledon Hawks, Orangeville Flyers, Hespeler Shamrocks and Milton Winterhawks.
“It’s a pretty tight league, and the teams are really evenly-matched,” coach McIntosh says. “I think in every game we’ve been within a goal in the second period, either up or down.
“With a couple of teams like Woolwich (15-0-1) and Centre Wellington (13-2-2), they look like they have a core that’s played together for five or six years. You can see it on their powerplay and on their penalty-kill. They know what each other is doing out there.”
St. Marys plays its seven opponents in the West home and away, and the teams in the East just once for a 22-game regular schedule. The Legion Midgets play the majority of their home games Sunday nights at 7 o’clock.
2018-19 team roster
The 2018-19 Legion Minor Midgets roster is as follows: Nolan Shackleton, Aaron Waugh, Ethan Aarts, Curtis Taylor, Adam DeNeve, Graham Thomson, Owen McIntosh, Jacob Boyd, Loghan Hodkinson, Noah McLeod, Scott McClelland, Scott Standeaven, Gage Barcley-Rowe, Nathan Reay, Owen Fraser, Alex Var and Paolo Linares.
Head coach Robb McIntosh, assistant coaches Scott Shackleton, Cole Stewart and Mike Johnson, and trainer/team manager John Hodkinson.
–Two of the new skaters with St. Marys this season are from Embro, Noah McLeod and Owen Fraser.
–The Legion Midgets went 2-2 at their Regional Silver Stick tournament in Owen Sound in early November.
–The Rock is back in league action this Sunday, Dec. 9, hosting New Hamburg Huskies at 7 p.m. It’s in the middle of a busy stretch, with seven games in a span of 11 days.
“As we get close to Christmas, we face some of the top teams in the league, so want to keep going the way we are right now,” coach McIntosh noted.