Last weekend saw more OMHA finals action for 3 of our SMMHA
teams. Also, the St.Marys Landscaping Atom Girls continued on their
Read below for more details on the Dunny's Atom AE, St.Marys Golf and Country
Club Atom BB, and Firefighter Peewee BB finalists, and the Atom Girls.
Dunny’s Atoms force fifth and deciding game
This Saturday afternoon in Port Elgin
By Pat Payton
It’s now a one-game showdown for all the marbles!
The Dunny’s Source for Sports Atoms forced a fifth and deciding game in their OMHA A-E final with a 4-1 victory over Saugeen Shores Storm last Sunday afternoon at the PRC.
Game 5 is this Saturday in Port Elgin at 1:15 p.m. If the game ends in a tie, Game 6 will be Sunday, Apr. 1 at the Rock rink in St. Marys at 1 p.m.
The Rock have not won a road game in the series, and the Dunny’s coaches say it’s time for a win at the Saugeen Shores Community Complex.
“We’re going to ask them today if we can wear our home jerseys up there (this) weekend,” St. Marys coach Sean Porter said with a laugh. “Maybe that will give us some luck.
“We’re just going to work hard at practice this week, and go up there with the same mind-set as we had today . . . that our backs are against the wall. We want to come home as All-Ontario champions.”
Assistant coach Jared Frayne pointed to a couple of keys for the Rock going into Game 5.
“We have to get pucks deep, and get to the net like we’ve been doing,” Frayne said. “We’re due to win up there. We just have to get traffic to the net. He’s a good goalie, but he gets rattled when we get traffic around him.”
St. Marys 4 - Saugeen Shores 1
In Game 4 at the PRC Sunday, two goals by captain Ty Wheeler helped the Dunny’s Atoms square the series at two games apiece.
For two periods, it was a very tight-checking affair with neither side wanting to give an inch. Wheeler finally opened the scoring, on a powerplay, with just 1:21 left in the middle frame.
After the Storm tied it 1-1 at 2:59 of the third, Wheeler fired the winner on another powerplay at the 4:06 mark. Simon Greig then made it 3-1 on a breakaway just 35 seconds later, neatly picking the corner.
“Their goalie (Tyler Little) gets a little rattled after he gets scored on like that,” coach Porter said. “When you drive hard to the net, good things will happen. The Saugeen Shores goalie is a huge part of their team for sure. Without him, the series wouldn’t be going to Game 5.”
Jonah Lariviere completed the scoring into an empty Saugeen Shores net with 3:18 left on the clock. On a late powerplay, the visitors pulled their goalie again for a 6-on-4 advantage, but the Rock defended well.
“We wanted a better start today,” coach Porter added. “We knew our backs were against the wall. We really focused on not losing two in a row, especially at this time of year.
“We went back to a simple game, get the puck in deep and force turnovers in their end, and it paid off for us today.”
Two other standouts for St. Marys were forward Greig and defenceman Connor Hall, who contributed strong defensive play and two assists as well.
Saugeen Shores 4 - St. Marys 2
In Game 3 Saturday in Port Elgin, the Storm broke open a close game with two goals--just 48 seconds apart--midway through the third period. The goals gave the home team a 3-1 lead.
After Emmett Jackson scored his second of the afternoon to make it 4-1, the Rock’s Jonah Lariviere completed the scoring in the dying seconds. The other St. Marys goal came off the stick of Sam Johnson.
“We got off to a slow start again up there,” coach Porter reported. “They took it to us and we sat back. They dictated the play, and that’s not our game.”
Johnson opened the scoring early in the second period, and then the visitors hit a crossbar on the next shift.
“A second goal could have been a turning point for us,” Porter said. “They battled back. I’ll give them credit, Saugeen Shores simply out-worked us.”
--Delaney Schoelier, a Grade 11 DCVI student, sang the national anthem before Game 4 Sunday.
--The Dunny’s A-E Atoms have played 56 games to date. They are 14-4 in 18 OMHA playoff games.
G&CC Atoms leave everything on the ice
Midland goalie the difference in OMHA ‘BB’ final series
By Pat Payton
St. Marys Golf and Country Club Atoms left everything on the ice Saturday afternoon at the PRC.
Midland Centennials’ goalie Mason Downs was the difference, plus a couple of goals from forward Drew Robson. Downs stopped everything the Atom Rock could throw at him in a hard-fought 2-0 Centennials’ win. It gave Midland--the defending provincial champions--the best-of-five OMHA ‘BB’ final in three straight games.
Every game in the series was basically decided by one goal.
Rock holds shooting edge
Overall, Dan Schiedel’s G&CC Atoms held a 27-19 edge in shots on net in Saturday’s Game 3, played in front of a big crowd. The Rock out-shot the Centennials 18-9 over the first two periods, but couldn’t get a puck behind Downs.
“We played our hardest,” assistant coach Ken Schiedel said. “Their goaltender was the difference. We had a lot of chances in the first half of the game and couldn’t bury one.”
Head coach Dan Schiedel agreed that it “kind of epitomized” the entire series.
“Every game was by a goal, and we could have easily won all three games,” Schiedel said. “We’re proud of the kids and the effort was definitely there today. I thought we started better today, than the first two games of the series.
“We dug our heels in, and had some good chances today, and I think their goaltender was the difference in the series. He was solid in all three games and we had a tough time getting one past him.
“But at the same time, Midland’s a good team and they’re well-coached and well-balanced. They didn’t give us a lot of time and space. In addition to their goalie, their defence is strong and they’re led by No. 12 (Robson) up front. He was their leader all series.”
Winger Griffin McGregor had the best two chances in the first period for St. Marys, with one of his shots beating Downs but not a goal post.
A desperate Rock team pushed for the game’s first goal early in the middle frame, but Downs continued to turn away all attempts, and the two sides went into the final 15 minutes still deadlocked 0-0.
With 5:21 left in the third, Midland picked up a tripping penalty. However, the G&CC squad failed to take advantage. With just six seconds left in the powerplay, Centennials’ Robson scored the game winner shorthanded after goalie Cyler Pickering had made the first save.
After Pickering was pulled for a sixth attacker with 1:26 to play, Robson added an empty-netter with 39 seconds left on the clock.
Midland coach Jim McLaren said it was his team’s 66th game of the season on Saturday. When asked about a game plan, he said his team “already knew the drill.”
“We didn’t have to tell the boys much,” McLaren said. “All the games were very tight, so it’s very hard to pin-point what the difference in the series was. The teams were very well-matched. I just think it came down to the odd bounce of the puck.
“And our goaltender was outstanding today. He made a lot of quality saves.”
--Niko Taylor, a Grade 5 Little Falls student, did another nice job of singing the national anthem prior to last Saturday’s Game 3.
--OMHA rep. Dean Johnson, from Mt. Brydges, was on hand to present medals and trophies to both Atom teams Saturday. Coach Dan Schiedel and the St. Marys ‘BB’ Atoms accepted the Joe Belcot Trophy--as provincial finalists--for the third straight year. Last season, the Rock lost in the fifth and deciding game of the OMHA final in Midland.
“I thought maybe the third year would be a charm,” Schiedel said with a laugh. “I think any time you get to the finals, they’re never easy to win. Sometimes you have to tip your hat to your opponent. Midland got a couple of more bounces, but our guys were right there.
“Maybe that’s what makes it sting a little bit because we could have won a couple of those games. We were so close . . . but that’s hockey.”
--The G&CC Atoms went 12-5 in 17 provincial playoff games. They defeated Mt. Brydges, Strathroy, Erin-Hillsburgh and Niagara-on-the-Lake in earlier series.
--For some of the Midland Atom players, it was their fourth consecutive OMHA title.
Firefighter Peewees can hold their heads high
Team gives Napanee Stars terrific battle on home ice
By Pat Payton
The Firefighter Peewees can hold their heads high!
Dwain Smith’s squad thrilled home-town fans this past weekend with two very entertaining hockey games against the Napanee Stars.
After a convincing 6-1 victory on Saturday night, Firefighters dropped a tough 3-2 decision to the Stars Sunday afternoon. Sunday’s win gave Napanee the best-of-five OMHA ‘BB’ final three games to one.
The Stars, who had won the first two games--4-2 and 7-2--in Napanee the previous weekend, saw the real Firefighter Peewees on their home ice. It’s a series that could have easily gone the distance.
Stars’ coach Fred Sutcliffe tipped his hat to the St. Marys team following Sunday’s game.
“St. Marys is probably the best team we played all year,” Sutcliffe said as his team celebrated on the ice.
“It was very close series. Some of the scores don’t really indicate how the games went. When we beat them 7-2, it was a much closer game than that score might indicate. It was a great series and lots of fun.”
Napanee 3 - St. Marys 2
A crowd estimated at between 600 and 700 spectators watched Game 4 Sunday in the Rock rink. After a resounding defeat Saturday, the Napanee team came out skating and forechecking and it paid off with first-period goals by Carter McKee and Cal Uens.
Firefighters picked up the pace in the second period, and got back in the game when captain Jimmy Schiedel scored a beautiful goal at the 10:51 mark. A perfect pass from Owen Boyd set up the tap-in marker. However, Stars were quick to answer. Uens, Napanee’s most dangerous player, scored just 50 seconds later to make it 3-1.
Firefighters’ best period was the final 15 minutes, and they almost pushed the game to extra time. Owen Boyd pulled the Rock to within a goal at 5:53 of the third from Rourke McEwan.
With 1:03 left on the clock, coach Smith pulled goalie Josh Ballantyne for a sixth attacker. With 16 seconds remaining, Owen Boyd broke in all alone, but goalie Sam Rickard stopped the St. Marys forward to preserve Stars’ one-goal lead.
“It’s unbelievable, Napanee had not lost to a ‘BB’ team this year until we beat them (Saturday) night,” coach Smith said. “We took them to four games, and I’m very proud of our boys. We didn’t quit.
“After two periods today, the boys still had a lot of fight in them and we got a goal back in the third. We started putting everything on net. A couple of more bounces and who knows?”
After Saturday’s loss, coach Sutcliffe said Napanee had to re-establish their forechecking attack.
“The biggest thing was our forecheck today,” he said. “We didn’t have it in Saturday’s game, but today we got it going again. That was the biggest difference in today’s game for us.
“When we put pressure on St. Marys in their end, we controlled the play. After Saturday’s game, we knew we needed more effort. We didn’t have it in Saturday’s game, but today we did.”
St. Marys 6 - Napanee 1
After Game 3 at the PRC Saturday, coach Smith said his Firefighter Peewees played one of their best games of the season.
In front of a huge crowd jammed into the Blue rink, Smith said the Rock game plan was to “get shots on net and take away their time and space.” And the St. Marys players executed the game plan for the full 45 minutes. The Napanee players appeared to get frustrated with the Firefighters’ smothering forecheck and took five of the game’s seven minor penalties.
The Rock paid special attention to the Stars’ two best players--Uens and Spencer Cranley--but they didn’t give much room to any of their teammates, either.
Hat trick for Shiell
Forward Jaden Shiell paced the St. Marys’ attack with a hat trick--scoring a goal in each period.
Goals by Ian Boyd and Shiell staked the home team to a 2-0 lead late in the first period.
Firefighters kept their foot on the gas in the middle frame, dominating the visitors and building a 5-0 advantage by the 11-minute mark of the period. Shiell, Owen Boyd and Peyton Lobb scored in a span of just over three minutes midway through the period. After Lobb’s powerplay goal, Napanee changed goaltenders. Carter McKee scored Stars’ lone goal on a powerplay at 13:59 of the period.
Shiell completed his hat trick at 10:43 of the third. Josh Ballantyne earned the net win, making the key saves when called upon. Contributing two assists each for the Rock were Jimmy Schiedel, Ryan Hodkinson, Rourke McEwan and RJ Martin.
“We didn’t want to get away from our game, but we wanted to take away their time and space,” coach Smith explained after the game. “I think we gave (Napanee) a wake-up call tonight. When they got down 2-0 in the first period, they’re not used to that. And I don’t think they’ve lost 6-1 to anybody all season.
“We told the boys tonight, if we win this game we’re back in the series. The boys don’t give up, that’s the beauty of that room. We think we’re in this series, and now we are,” he added.
--Niko Taylor, a Grade 5 Little Falls student, sang the national anthem before both Firefighter Peewee games this past weekend.
--After Sunday’s game, the Firefighters received the Ab Gould Trophy for Peewee ‘BB’ provincial finalists. Making the presentation was Sandi Hipple, an OMHA rep. from Mt. Brydges.
--The Firefighters had a record of 13-6 in 19 OMHA playoff games. St. Marys defeated Mt. Brydges, Strathroy, Caledonia and Pelham in earlier playoff series.
--After Sunday’s game, Dwain Smith thanked the entire Peewee team, the parents and fans. “Yes, it is hard to accept right now,” he said. “But we had a good season, and the kids are a classy bunch of guys. I’m proud to be from St. Marys when I’m with these guys.”
--Napanee lost only one game in the provincial playoffs and that was Saturday night to the Firefighters. It was the Stars’ first defeat since late November.
Hard work pays off for Landscaping Atom girls
By Pat Payton
Hard work has certainly paid for the Landscaping Atom girls.
Since Christmas, the Atoms have played their best hockey and head coach Jeff Richardson says there are a couple of good reasons for that.
“We are a hard-working team,” Richardson told the Independent recently. “We are a team that tries to put as many pucks to the net as possible, throw everything at the net.
“We also try and out-work the other team in every game, and since Christmas it’s paid off. We’ve excelled since Christmas, and the girls have played really well. We’re hoping they can carry it on.”
Another key has been the “excellent” goaltending provided by Marta Rintoul. “She’s played great for us,” Richardson said.
In the recent WOGHL playoffs, the Landscaping Atoms posted a strong won-loss-tied record of 4-0-2 in a home-and-home, round-robin series with Brantford Ice Cats, Lambton Attack and St. Thomas Panthers. It gave Richardson and company first place and a berth in the ‘B’ Division final against second-place Brantford.
In a best-of-three series against Brantford this past weekend, the teams opened with a 3-3 tie at the Gretzky Centre in Brantford Friday night. On Sunday at the PRC, Ice Cats took a 3-1 lead in points with a 2-0 win.
On Monday night in St. Marys, the teams battled to a hard-fought 1-1 tie--giving Brantford the series four points to two. A big crowd was on hand, loudly cheering on the girls.
Needing a win to prolong the series, the Landscaping Atoms grabbed a 1-0 second-period lead on a goal by Cassie Richardson, assisted by Delanie McKay and Kylie Fifield.
The Ice Cats put on a big push early in the third, looking for the equalizer. At the 4:40 mark of the period, the visitors tied the score on a powerplay. Rintoul played a strong game for the home team.
If the St. Marys Atoms had won Monday’s game, tying the series at three points apiece, a 10-minute game would have been played immediately after to help determine a series winner.
Both teams received medals following the game, and posed together for a group photo.
Three teams off to provincials
The Landscaping Atoms, meanwhile, are one of three SMMHA girls teams who have qualified for the Provincial championships in Vaughan in early April. The Kin Canada Novice girls, coached by Scott Richardson, and the McPhail’s Pet Store Bantam girls, coached by Brittany (Sterkenburg) Petrie, will also compete in the Ontario championships on the weekend of Apr. 5-8.