Rock team plays seven games en route to the championship
By Pat Payton
MITCHELL – Now, that was a full weekend of hockey for the Firefighter ‘BB’ Peewees.
Dwain Smith’s squad played a total of seven games on their way to repeating as champions at the 64th annual Mitchell Peewee tournament on the Nov. 8-10 weekend. Two of the Firefighters’ games also went to shootouts, including their semi-final contest against Ilderton Jets — a Shamrock League rival.
“We took the long way around, after we lost to Dorchester in our second game in a shootout,” team manager Marty Thomson reported.
On Friday morning, Firefighters opened the tourney with an 8-0 victory over Mount Forest Rams, building period leads of 3-0 and 7-0.
Colton Henderson paced the Rock offence with a pair of goals, while the singles came off the sticks of Colton Hawkins, Jared Ballantyne, Ty Wheeler, captain Adam Turner, Oliver McHugh and Hayden Brintnell. Jayden Tipping contributed two assists, and Cyler Pickering recorded the shutout.
On Friday afternoon in Monkton, Firefighters lost their only game of the weekend — dropping a 5-4 decision to Dorchester Dragons in a nine-round shootout. Dragons tied the score 4-4 with 58 seconds left in regulation time, and then two rounds of overtime settled nothing.
Henderson scored twice for the Rock in regulation, while the singles went to Brintnell and Evan Ballantyne. Julian Walsh and Pickering shared the goaltending duties.
Three wins on Saturday
Firefighters had a busy Saturday, needing three wins to advance to Sunday. Mission accomplished!
The Rock opened the day with a 4-2 victory over the host Mitchell Meteors, scoring three times in the third period. Goal-getters for St. Marys were Ty Wheeler, Grayson Boreham, Colton Henderson and Jayden Tipping. The net win went to Pickering.
In their second game of the day, Walsh picked up the shutout and goals by Henderson and Wheeler lifted Firefighters to a 2-0 win over Mount Forest Rams.
In their third contest on Saturday, another 2-0 Rock win sent the Oro Thunder heading for home. Second-period goals by affiliate player Grier Mahoney and Colton Hawkins took care of the offence, with defenceman Connor Hall earning an assist. Pickering chalked up his team’s third shutout of the weekend.
Sunday morning shootout
In the semi-finals Sunday morning against Ilderton Jets, Firefighters’ Hayden Brintnell connected with just 20 seconds remaining in regulation time to tie the score 2-2 and force overtime.
After two OT periods went scoreless, the Rock won the shootout 2-1 to win the game 3-2 and secure a spot in the final. Colton Hawkins scored the other regulation-time goal for St. Marys, with Jayden Tipping assisting on both Rock tallies. Pickering earned the net win.
Firefighters’ championship-game opponent Sunday afternoon would be Dorchester, another SHL rival. But this time, the result would be much different.
St. Marys erased an early 1-0 deficit with four unanswered second-period goals and went on to slay the Dragons 5-1. Brintnell, Tipping and Connor Hall each had a goal and an assist to propel the Rock attack. The other singles went to Trevor Richardson and Ty Wheeler, while defenceman Turner was the playmaker with three assists.
Cyler Pickering again went the distance in net.
Dragons, meanwhile, had played fewer games than the Rock. The well-rested Dorchester club went into the final game with a 3-0 record.
Team forechecking hard
“We attacked and forechecked well,” manager Thomson replied when asked what the Firefighters did well in the tournament. “And our goaltending (Pickering and Walsh) was very good as well.”
Head coach Dwain Smith was also very pleased with his team’s performance.
“We played a lot of good hockey,” he said. “I’m happy with the result. Even if we had finished second, I still would have been happy. The boys are starting to play good hockey.”
In their seven games in the Mitchell tourney, the Peewees out-scored their opponents 27-9 in regulation time.
“We’re getting the puck out of our zone, and not giving teams a lot of scoring chances,” Smith noted. “I’m also impressed with the way these boys are moving the puck. And we’re attacking the puck in the offensive zone; we’re forechecking like crazy. We’re not giving the opposition any time to set up, and teams make mistakes then and turn the puck over.”
The Firefighters are getting a balanced scoring attack right now, and coach Smith is also pleased with his powerplay.
“The scoring is spread out throughout the team,” he says. “Even the defence is chipping in with points and goals. That’s a nice thing to have, then you’re not relying on one person or one line to do the damage.”
–The Firefighter Peewees will be competing in their third tournament in just over a month when they head to the Delhi Tabacco Town event Nov. 29-Dec. 1.