Complete sweep of NOTL, will meet either Lindsay or South Muskoka
By Pat Payton
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE – The Firefighter Peewees have earned a berth in the OMHA ‘BB’ championship series for a second straight season.
Dwain Smith’s Firefighters completed a three-game sweep of their best-of-five provincial semi-final playoff series with a 3-1 victory over the Wolves here Saturday.
Captain Ryan Hodkinson opened the scoring at 4:27 of the first period from winger Griffin McGregor. The Rock went up 3-0 midway through the second stanza with a pair of goals just 34 seconds apart. Finn Stewart connected from linemates Hodkinson and Peyton Lobb, and then Brock Chessell put the Wolves in a big hole from defenceman Adam Turner.
NOTL’s best player, Lucas Roberts Ramos, scored the home team’s only goal with just under five minutes remaining in the third.
Firefighters, meanwhile, played a penalty-free game Saturday. They out-shot the Wolves 30-10, with Carter Froggett recording the net win.
“We’re in the finals again, let’s hope we can get it done this time,” coach Smith said. “The whole team played well today, playing a complete game. Their coaches said our top line (Hodkinson, Stewart and Lobb) was dynamite.”
Smith also tipped his hat to the NOTL minor hockey association. “We played a class organization,” he said. “They were well-coached and it was a fun series to play. Their fans were classy, and they commented how classy we were.”
In the three-game sweep, St. Marys out-scored NOTL 12-4. The Peewee Rock will now meet either Lindsay or South Muskoka in the OMHA final. After weekend action, Lindsay held a 2-0 series lead.
Four goals for Hodkinson
In Game 2 at the PRC last Wednesday night, it was a dominating performance by the Firefighter Peewees in a 5-1 victory over the Wolves.
Leading the charge was centre Ryan Hodkinson, who powered the Rock with an outstanding four-goal effort. The trio of Hodkinson, Finn Stewart and Peyton Lobb was a threat every time they were on the ice.
“Ryan played well like the captain that he is,” coach Smith said. “That’s why he’s got 60 to 70 goals because he goes to the net. Ryan gets his goals, and he works for everything that he gets, but he also gets a lot of help and a lot of support from the whole team.”
Firefighters came out with a strong forechecking attack and the NOTL team often had trouble getting the puck out of its own zone. Hodkinson opened the scoring on a powerplay at 8:19 of the first period from Colton Henderson and defenceman Grayson Boreham. Nate Schiedel then took advantage of a turnover to score the second St. Marys goal with just 6.7 seconds left in the period. Griffin McGregor and Jayden Tipping assisted. “That was a deflating goal for them,” Smith noted.
It stayed 2-0 until the opening minute of the third when Hodkinson banged home a loose puck. Stewart and Lobb drew assists. Just over three minutes later, the talented centre struck again with an unassisted goal.
With just 1:17 remaining, Wolves spoiled Carter Froggett’s shutout bid with a shorthanded goal. Thirteen seconds after that, Hodkinson netted his second powerplay goal of the night from Stewart and defenceman Austin DeBoer.
Overall, shots were 25-17 in favour of St. Marys. Froggett earned the net win, making the timely saves when called upon.
“We wanted to get on the forecheck right off the bat, and never let up,” coach Smith said. “Tonight, we just wanted to attack . . . and we had three lines going.”