Game 4 Saturday afternoon at the PRC
By Pat Payton
It was a full, 40-minute team effort, Golf and Country Club ‘BB’ Atoms coach Reg Clinton said.
Some timely goals and solid goaltending from Julian Walsh were other factors. It all added up to a well-deserved 4-0 victory over Erin-Hillsburgh Devils Sunday afternoon at the PRC.
The Rock win evened the best-of-five OMHA quarter-final playoff series at one game apiece. Game 3 is Thursday, Feb. 21 in Erin at 7 p.m., with Game 4 Saturday in St. Marys at 3:20 p.m.
Close game for two periods
In Game 2 Sunday, defenceman Nathan Wolfkamp fired what proved to be the winner at 2:21 of the first period. Connor Wheeler and Ty Wheeler drew assists. Late in the opening period, Walsh made a couple of big stops to keep it 1-0.
Although the Rock held a wide territorial edge, the score remained close at the midway point of the contest. Finally at 8:36 of the second period, Ty Wheeler banged in a loose puck to put the home team up 2-0. Assists went to Jared Ballantyne and Simon Taylor.
Walsh, meanwhile, continued to make the key saves when called upon. He made a huge stop from the slot early in the third as Devils pushed to get back in the game.
At 8:22 of the third, Myles Clinton connected with a high shot to put St. Marys ahead 3-0. The Rock, who showed good puck movement on their powerplay all afternoon, finally connected with the man advantage with just under five minutes to play. Jared Ballantyne was the marksman, from Conner Wheeler and defenceman Owen Dittmer.
Following the game, coach Clinton said all three lines contributed–especially the trio of Wheeler, Wheeler and Jared Ballantyne.
“Everybody was fully engaged today; we executed top to bottom,” he said. “Everyone was on board with that game. Our back-check today was really good, and we head-manned the puck. And we really exploited the points being open today.”
Clinton also tipped his hat to his goaltender. “Julian looked really comfortable back there today. He really tracked the puck well.”
What is going to be the key to win on Erin ice, the coach was asked.
“I think it will be getting the momentum and keeping it down there,” he replied. “I think we’ve showed resilience that we’re never out of a game. We just have to get the early jump and maintain it down in Erin.”
Devils get late winner
In the series opener Saturday afternoon in Erin, the G&CC Atoms dropped a 5-3 decision to the home-town Devils.
Erin-Hillsburgh opened up a 3-1 second-period lead, with Sam Johnson scoring for the Rock. Early in the third, goals by Myles Clinton and Finn Wright tied the count at 3-3. Devils got the winner with just under six minutes to play, and their final goal was into an empty net with 22 seconds left on the clock.
“It seemed like we were half-a-step behind,” coach Clinton reported. “We did a really good job of getting back into the game, tying it 3-3. They got a little bit of a squeaker goal late in the third.
“We had moments of pressure, but our checking wasn’t as good as it was (Sunday). We weren’t as hard on the puck.”