Ryan Hodkinson, Myles Clinton fire overtime winners for the Rock
By Pat Payton
It proved to be quite the exciting playoff night for three St. Marys minor hockey teams last Wednesday at the PRC.
Two SMMHA teams went into overtime and won, and the ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams took a commanding lead in their OMHA series.
The Golf and Country Club ‘BB’ Atoms kicked off a memorable night with a 2-1 OT victory over Strathroy Jr. Rockets.
In another close, hard-fought series, the Rock’s Jared Ballantyne opened the scoring midway through the second period from Sam Johnson. Rockets tied it early in the third, forcing a 10-minute overtime period.
Myles Clinton ended it at 2:08 of extra time when he scored unassisted. The goal gave St. Marys the win, a 2-1 series lead, and a chance to finish the best-of-five series on Tuesday of this week in Strathroy. If Game 5 is necessary, it will be played Saturday in St. Marys, starting at 2 p.m.
Hodkinson emerges hero
The Firefighter ‘BB’ Peewees also grabbed a 2-1 series lead, and captain Ryan Hodkinson and company did it in dramatic fashion against Mt. Brydges Cougars. With their goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Hodkinson scored twice in the final 90 seconds to force overtime. The Firefighters’ centre then completed his hat trick early in OT, giving St. Marys a stunning 3-2 victory.
Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead. The Rock applied strong pressure in the second period, especially after Mt. Brydges ran into penalty troubles. Firefighters held a 5-on-3 man advantage at one point, but could not get a puck past Cougars’ goalie Aiden Spivak who made a couple of outstanding point-blank stops.
It was Carter Froggett’s turn early in the third, and a couple of big saves kept St. Marys within striking distance.
Finally, with just 1:25 left in regulation time, and Froggett on the bench for a sixth attacker, Hodkinson broke in and beat Spivak. Lucan Vernooy assisted. With Froggett again on the bench for an extra skater, Hodkinson tied it with 45 seconds left on the clock. Doing the digging behind the net were Brock Chessell and Nate Schiedel.
Mt. Brydges picked up an interference penalty at 3:34 of overtime, and Firefighters made them pay on the powerplay. After taking a pass from Schiedel, Hodkinson cut in and roofed the winner at the 4:17 mark. The Rock captain was mobbed by his teammates following the goal.
Overall, shots on net were 35-16 in favour of St. Marys.
“We got ourselves in a hole right off the bat,” coach Dwain Smith said afterwards. “Everytime we give up goals, it’s because of give-aways. We out-shot them in the second and third periods, and I thought maybe tonight was the night when we weren’t going to get a break. The Mt. Brydges goalie played well; he made some great saves.
“But we didn’t quit. Late in the game, we told the boys, ‘once we get possession, everybody has to go to the net.’ It worked out well for us. We did not want to go back to Mt. Brydges down 2-1 (in the series). But we’re still going to have to play some good hockey. They’re a good team. I think the fans got their four dollars worth tonight,” he added.
Firefighters sideline Cougars
In Game 4 Sunday night in Mt. Brydges, the Firefighter Peewees wrapped up the best-of-five series with a 5-1 victory over the Cougars.
Ryan Hodkinson scored twice for the Rock, who built period leads of 2-0 and 4-0, while the singles went to Finn Stewart, Griffin McGregor and Colton Henderson. Carter Froggett lost his shutout bid with less than five minutes remaining.
“We played really well,” coach Smith reported. “We stopped their breakout after working on it at practice Friday night. We hemmed them in, and they were really frustrated tonight.”
Overall, shots were 31-10 in favour of the Firefighters, who will meet Dorchester in the next round.
ANAF Bantams up 2-0
To cap off a great night last Wednesday, the ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams skated to a 3-0 victory over their Mt. Brydges counterparts to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five series.
Goalie Nic Kiestra earned the shutout and his second win of the series.
Kaleb Schalk’s goal late in the second period, from affiliate skater Ian Boyd, stood up as the game winner. Defenceman Mason Boonstra added a powerplay goal early in the third, and Maurice Kiestra completed the scoring into an empty net with just 56 seconds to play. Captain Ethan Froggett drew assists on all three St. Marys goals.
Cougars took 22 of the 30 penalty minutes.
Coach Brandon Boyd was pleased with his team’s “solid effort” on home ice.
“Our boys are banged up and bruised, but it was nice to get back into a larger rink to let our skill separate us from a physical Mount Brydges squad,” he said.
“Consistency has been our issue over the past two months, but two games into OMHA playoffs and we’ve found a rhythm. Our defence do a great job of limiting high-quality chances, and we know (Nic) Kiestra will stand tall as he has all year. Keys will be to stay focused and not revert to bad habits to close out this series.”
Game 3 was Monday of this week in Mt. Brydges. If necessary, Game 4 is Wednesday, Jan. 23 in St. Marys at 8:30 p.m.