First two games in OMHA series decided by a goal
By Pat Payton
MT. BRYDGES – The Frayne Custom Cabinets A-E Bantams took a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-five, second-round OMHA playoff series with a 3-2 victory over the home-town Cougars here Saturday afternoon.
After Cougars opened the scoring, Rock centre Jake Pfaff tied it late in the first period from Gavin Muir. Pfaff put St. Marys ahead to stay midway through the second stanza, with Muir and Ian Boyd assisting.
Big winger Cam Stapleton fired what proved to be the winner early in the third from captain Jake Littlejohn. Mt. Brydges pulled to within a goal with 4:54 remaining, but the visitors held on.
The undisciplined Cougars took seven of the nine minor penalties, plus a coach was given a game misconduct at the final buzzer.
“It was a decent game; it wasn’t too rough,” Rock coach Dale Switzer said. “The penalties were penalties on both sides. It was good timing for us with the late penalties that Mt. Brydges took. It took the flow out of the game on them. They’re a good team, but so far we’ve been better.”
Mt. Brydges staved off elimination by winning 4-1 at home on Monday night in Game 3. Game 4 was back in St. Marys on Tuesday of this week. Also, if needed, Game 5 is Saturday at the PRC at 6:45 p.m.
In the series opener last Thursday night at the PRC, three third-period goals lifted the Frayne Bantams to a 4-3 victory over the Cougars.
With the score deadlocked 1-1 and the teams playing four aside, RJ Masse put the Rock ahead 2-1 with an unassisted goal at 4:32 of the third period. With just under five minutes to play, Zach Rooney made it 3-1 for the home team, with his second of the night.
Rock goalie Kiefer MacNeil made a huge save with just over three minutes remaining when a Cougars’ forward broke in all alone. Just seconds later, the visitors pulled to within a goal on a powerplay.
However, just 58 seconds after that, Jake Grant connected to restore a two-goal lead for St. Marys from Gavin Muir and Jake Pfaff. Mt. Brydges pulled its goalie with 1:37 remaining for a sixth attacker, and scored the game’s final goal with just six seconds left on the clock.
It was a feisty affair, with the teams combining for 23 penalty minutes. Mt. Brydges picked up a five-minute major for boarding in the first period.
“We weren’t skating in the first two periods,” coach Switzer said. “We started moving our feet in the third, and moving the puck. That was the key. We didn’t get a good flow going until the first five minutes of the third.
“When you’re playing a physical team, you need speed to get past the physical stuff. It’s the only way around it. When you’re standing around, that’s when you’re going to get hit.”
Switzer expects the next two games in Mt. Brydges to be very physical.
“Mt. Brydges has a smaller rink and it’s even more important to keep your feet and the puck moving,” he said. “It’s what you do against a physical team.
“I think it’s going to be a long series. Even if it only goes three games, it will seem like a long series. They will all be tight games, I’m sure.”