By Pat Payton
Head coach Brent Rae says speed is a team strength with his Cement ‘BB’ Midgets this season. But his team also showed grit and physical play and got excellent goaltending in a recent 1-1 Shamrock League tie with the visiting Lambeth Lancers.
Missing five regulars, the Cement men had just 10 skaters–eight full-timers and two affiliate skaters–and faced a Lambeth team that came to the PRC with a full line-up. But a great effort by Rae’s charges almost earned the Rock two points on this night.
“For having just 10 guys, we battled tonight,” Rae said following the game. “It was one of our better games this season.”
The Rock can point to goalie Jake Bryans as a big reason for earning the tie against the Lancers. After giving up an early first-period goal, Bryans shut the door with a number of spectacular stops. Defenceman Scott McClelland scored for St. Marys during a second-period powerplay. Forwards Keegan Nethercott and Kaleb Schalk assisted on the tying goal.
In a Shamrock home game last Thursday night, the Cement men skated to a 2-2 tie against Dorchester Dragons — considered one of the top teams in the SHL’s Central division.
Captain Nathan Reay scored the first St. Marys goal from Paolo Linares, and Kaleb Schalk netted the second on a powerplay–tipping home Scott McClelland’s point shot.
“We cycled the puck really well tonight, but we’re just having trouble scoring goals,” coach Rae said. “Other than that, we out-played Dorchester. We just couldn’t get any bounces in front of their net.”
Aaron Waugh went the distance in net for the Rock.
Rae says the undefeated Dragons (4-0-3), Strathroy (4-1-1) and Petrolia (6-0-3) should provide the stiffest competition in the Central division, and St. Marys has tied all three teams. The Midget BBs currently have a 1-2-4 won-loss-tied record in Shamrock League play.
Young team in 2019-20
Rae, in his first year behind the Cement Midgets’ bench, has a young squad — with only two or three returning players. There are also only four or five third-year Midgets on the team.
Four players from last year’s ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams made the jump to the Cement men. “The rest came from the Minor Midget program in St. Marys,” coach Rae said.
“A lot of third-year Midgets went off to play Junior,” Rae noted. “And what we lack in size, we make up for with speed. We’ve also had good goaltending from Jake Bryans and Aaron Waugh. They are affiliating with the Lucan Jr. ‘C’ Irish as well.”
A main focus right now is puck control. “If we can control the puck, we can control the speed of the game,” the coach says.
Rae says a balanced attack is likely the way his team will produce most of its offence this season. “If we can score by committee, I think that would be good.”
Other members of Rae’s bench staff are defencemen coach Colton Drinkwalter, forwards’ coach Dillon Drinkwalter, and team trainer is Kevin Bilyea.
2019-2020 Cement Midgets’ team roster
The 2019-20 Cement ‘BB’ Midgets team roster is as follows: Goalies Jake Bryans and Aaron Waugh, Scott McClelland, Sam Bolton, Mason Boonstra, Ethan Froggett, George Hensel, Thomas Kiestra, Paolo Linares, Owen McIntosh, Jacob Boyd, Nathan Reay, Keegan Nethercott, Kaleb Schalk and Jacob Wiles.
Note: The Cement Midgets will be competing in the annual Strathroy Jr. Rockets Olympics tournament this weekend, Nov. 14-17.