Sweep NOTL, will now play Lincoln Blades for provincial title
By Pat Payton
NOTL – Two SMMHA ‘BB’ teams used road wins here this past weekend to advance to best-of-five OMHA championship series.
First, it was the Firefighter Peewees who completed a three-game sweep of their Niagara-on-the-Lake counterparts, with a 3-1 victory Saturday.
On Sunday, the Legion Minor Midgets skated to a 5-0 victory over the home-town Wolves to win their best-of-three semi-final two straight.
Affiliate defenceman Mason Boonstra scored what proved to be the winner midway through the second period. The Rock then tacked on four insurance goals in the final 15 minutes. After captain Nathan Reay made it 2-0 at 1:35 of the third, affiliate forward Keegan Nethercott pumped in three in a row to complete the scoring. His second and third goals came in the final minute of play.
Goalie Aaron Waugh posted the shutout.
“We certainly had our road legs when we got there,” coach Robb McIntosh reported. “We weren’t going in the first period, but that goal in the second period kind of got us going, and then we carried the play from there.”
The Legion Midgets will now play Lincoln for the provincial title. Coach McIntosh admits that his team will have a “tough test” against the Blades.
“We’ve had a couple of real tight games with them,” he said. “We’re going to have to be at the top of our game against them.”
Hat trick for Linares in opener
In the series opener last Tuesday night at the PRC, Paolo Linares was the scoring star for the Legion Midgets. The left winger fired a natural hat trick in the first period, sparking the Rock to a 5-1 victory over the Wolves.
Linares keyed a quick start for St. Marys with a pair of goals–just 36 seconds apart–before the game was three minutes old. Assists went to Gage Barclay Rowe and Nathan Reay.
The Rock had several other good chances in the opening frame, but couldn’t add to their lead. Finally, with just 3.3 seconds left in the period, Linares completed his hat trick–tipping home a point shot on a powerplay. Assists went to Reay and defenceman Owen Fraser.
Mason Boonstra made it 4-0 at 5:04 of the second period, catching the short side with a sharp-angled shot. Later in the period, Legion goalie Nolan Shackleton kept the visitors off the scoreboard with a couple of big saves during a Wolves’ powerplay.
Midway through the third, Loghan Hodkinson increased the St. Marys lead to 5-0 from Boonstra and Jacob Boyd. Shackleton, in his first game back from a lower-body injury, lost his shutout bid with just over four minutes to play during a NOTL powerplay.
“The guys got off to a good start tonight,” coach McIntosh said. “It’s been an issue for us this season and it was nice to see them do that. We set the pace tonight and that made the difference.”
The teams combined for 15 minor penalties.
The Legion Midgets dressed three APs from the ANAF Bantams–Boonstra, Keegan Nethercott and Ethan Froggett.
Earlier round-robin series
In an earlier OMHA round-robin playoff format, the Legion Minor Midgets went 2-2 against the Niagara-on-the-Lake Wolves and Lincoln Blades. The Rock defeated NOTL 4-1 and 5-0, but lost 2-1 and 2-1 to Lincoln.
Lincoln (4-0) finished first, St. Marys second and NOTL (0-4) third. Second place then played third to determine who would play Lincoln, who earned a bye, in the OMHA final.
In recent Tri-County League playoffs, the Legion Midgets defeated Oakville Rangers Blue in a best-of-three series. After dropping the series opener 3-0, the Rock won the next two games, 2-0 and 3-2 on the road.
The Legion crew then came up against Guelph. In two well-played games, the Gryphons edged St. Marys 4-3 and 2-1.