Team plays best game of the season at home last Thursday against Rockets
By Pat Payton
The coaching staff said the Legion A-E Midgets may have played their best all-round game of the season to date last Thursday night at the PRC.
After losing the series opener 7-0 in Strathroy, Bob Davis’s squad bounced back with a well-deserved 4-3 victory over the Jr. Rockets two nights later. The St. Marys win evened the best-of-five Shamrock League semi-final playoff series at one game apiece.
“We played as a team tonight,” Davis told the Independent. “The biggest thing we had tonight was second effort. We controlled the play in the neutral zone much better, and we forced their defence to cough the puck up in their zone.”
Davis also noted that Strathroy finished first in the Shamrock standings.
“We beat them the first game of the year, but hadn’t beat them since,” he said. “For us to beat them tonight, that’s as well as we can play. It was a solid team effort all-round . . . from the goalie out.”
The night started positive for the Rock as Jake Pfaff connected just 28 seconds into the contest. Assists went to Loghan Hodkinson and defenceman Ben Turner.
Rockets tied it 1-1 on a powerplay at 4:26, then took a 2-1 lead just under three minutes later. Sam Watt pulled the Legion even at 2-2 with just over a minute left in the period. Hodkinson and defenceman Graham Thomson drew assists.
The score remained deadlocked until the 11-minute mark of the middle frame. Good hustle by linemates Pfaff and Hodkinson set up Aaron Vernooy in front and he banged in his own rebound to put St. Marys up 3-2. With just 2.7 seconds left in the period, netminder Nolan Shackleton made a huge breakaway save to keep the home team in front.
After a Strathroy forward broke free and tied it 3-3 early in the third, defenceman Josh McCurdy fired what proved to be the winner, unassisted, at the 6:36 mark. With the Rock on a powerplay, McCurdy seemed to handcuff the Rockets’ goalie with a low wrist shot from deep in the slot.
The visitors pulled their goalie for an extra attacker with 1:56 remaining, and Shackleton was forced to make a couple of game-saving stops.
In Game 3 Sunday afternoon, the Jr. Rockets took a 2-1 series lead with a 3-0 home-ice victory.
Game 4 was Monday of this week in St. Marys. If necessary, Game 5 is Thursday in Strathroy at 8:30 p.m.