By Pat Payton
EXETER – The Hubbard Pharmacy Bantam ‘B’ girls are a busy hockey team these days, competing in two different playoff series.
In a best-of-five OWHA playdown series to determine who advances to the provincials in Toronto in April, Liz Simpson’s team is facing an uphill battle after dropping a 2-1 decision to South Huron Sabres here Saturday. The close win gave Sabres a 2-0 series lead.
It was the fourth playoff game in four days for the Hubbard Bantams, who now get a little rest before hosting Game 3 this Thursday, Feb. 28 in St. Marys at 8:15 p.m. If necessary, Game 4 is Saturday in Exeter at 5 o’clock. Also if needed, Game 5 is Monday, Mar. 4 in St. Marys at 7:45 p.m.
Officiating frustrates Bantams
In the series opener last Thursday night at the PRC, poor officiating hurt the Hubbard Bantams’ chances in a 2-0 loss to the visiting Sabres.
The referees called nine of the 11 minor penalties against St. Marys, and both South Huron goals came on powerplays.
Rock goalie Emma Luyten stopped a couple of point-blank chances in the first period, keeping the game scoreless. Early in the middle frame, Sabres opened the scoring with the man advantage. The officials handed the Hubbard squad four consecutive penalties, and South Huron twice had 5-on-3 powerplay opportunities in the period.
St. Marys captain Lydia Taylor broke in and forced the Sabres’ goalie to make a big save early in the third. Shortly after, the visitors added their second goal–again with the man advantage.
Hubbard coach Liz Simpson admitted that it was “frustrating”, watching most of the penalty calls go against her team.
“It was very frustrating refereeing,” she said. “I think some of the calls were a little soft. It was frustrating for us and frustrating for the team.
“I thought we played really well tonight. We had lots of good passing and were hard on our sticks. It’s the beginning of a tough series.”
During the LLFHL regular schedule, only one point separated the two teams. What is it going to take to defeat the South Huron team, coach Simpson was asked.
“We just need to step it up and be tough, and keep the intensity up. And maybe we need a few more shots on net.”
Sarnia series deadlocked 2-2
The Hubbard Bantams are also currently involved in a LLFHL semi-final playoff series against Sarnia Lady Sting.
On Friday night at the Clearwater arena, the teams battled to a 0-0 stalemate–leaving the four-point series deadlocked at two points apiece. Emma Luyten posted the shutout for St. Marys.
In the series opener last Wednesday at the PRC, the teams battled to a 2-2 tie. Sarnia opened the scoring, but the Rock held a 2-1 lead at one point. Emily Shrubsole and Audrey Littlejohn scored for St. Marys, with Emma Luyten and Josie Corby picking up assists.
“It was a pretty back-and-forth game,” coach Simpson said. “The teams are very evenly matched. I feel we’re the stronger team, but again, we just need to keep up that intensity. Sarnia is a good team that moves the puck well. We just need to keep pressure on the puck, and I think we can do it.”
The all-important Game 3 is this Friday at the PRC at 7:45 p.m.