Nethercott fires hat trick, ANAF
Bantams tie series 1-1
Bantams sweep Mooretown three straight in opening series
By Pat Payton
Forward Keegan Nethercott and goaltender Nic Kiestra earned the spotlight for the ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams last Wednesday night at the PRC.
With the Rock facing a must-win situation, Nethercott fired three goals and Kiestra stopped everything directed his way in a well-deserved 5-0 St. Marys victory over the rival Strathroy Jr. Rockets. The win tied the best-of-five, second-round OMHA playoff series 1-1.
Coach Brandon Boyd tipped his hat to both Kiestra and Nethercott, the best player on the ice.
“I don’t know how many shutouts Kiestra has had this season, but he’s had a ton,” coach Brandon Boyd said following the game. “Keegan’s our leading scorer and he came up with a huge game for us. Our big guys played well tonight.”
Game 3 was on Tuesday (Feb. 5) of this week in Strathroy. Game 4 is Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the PRC at 8:30 p.m. If the series goes the limit, Game 5 is Saturday, Feb. 9 in Strathroy at 5:30 p.m.
Game stars! Forward Keegan Nethercott, left, and goalie Nic Kiestra were two of the game stars for the ANAF 'BB' Bantams last Wednesday night at the PRC. A 5-0 St. Marys victory over Strathroy Jr. Rockets tied the best-of-five OMHA playoff series 1-1. (Payton photo)
Looking for better start
Last Wednesday, the ANAF coaches were looking for a better start in Game 2, and Nethercott provided the early spark with a pair of first-period goals. Maurice Kiestra tacked on another goal and the Rock owned a 3-0 lead by the end of the opening 15 minutes.
After St. Marys did a nice job of killing off a four-minute penalty to open the middle frame, it was Nic Kiestra’s turn to shine late in the period. The ANAF goalie made a couple of point-blank stops, including a fantastic pad save, to keep the Jr. Rockets off the scoreboard.
Kiestra was again solid in the third, shutting the door on all Strathroy chances. The Rock, meanwhile, added two powerplay goals to cap off a strong performance. Captain Ethan Froggett made it 4-0 at the 2:32 mark, snapping a nice wrister past the Strathroy goalie, and Nethercott completed his hat trick with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Defencemen Mason Boonstra and Ben Turner were two playmakers, both collecting three assists.
In the series opener four days earlier, a 4-3 Strathroy victory, it was the Jr. Rockets who jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead. Coach Boyd said part of the game plan Wednesday was to take the play to Strathroy from the drop of the puck.
“This is a team that’s had our number the entire season,” he said. “In the last game, they took it to us right out of the gate--getting the 3-0 lead. We won the second and third periods the last game, so we have really preached the message that we can’t take a period off or a shift off against these guys.
“Tonight, our defence kept their big guns to the outside, and limited their quality scoring chances.”
Boyd says his team has had trouble scoring against Jr. Rockets’ goalie Luke Winegarden. The coach says he doesn’t expect the Rock to get five goals every game.
“We lost twice to them in Shamrock and out-shot them both times,” Boyd noted. “We could only get one goal on him. We found a way to do it in Game 1 by putting the puck on net and banging in the rebounds.”
Powerplay a big factor
Looking ahead, the coach said his team must continue to have success with the man advantage.
“Tonight we went 2-for-2 on our powerplay,” Boyd noted. “We really have to capitalize on that. I think we’re now 3-for-3 with the man advantage in the series. That is definitely instrumental.
“We’re not going to score five goals on that guy (Winegarden) very often. We’ll take it when we can, but our powerplay has to be a game-changer for us.”
Frayne Bantams complete sweep
The Frayne Custom Cabinets A-E Bantams completed a three-game sweep of Mooretown Jr. Flags last Friday night at the PRC.
Four unanswered first-period goals helped the Rock post a convincing 6-1 victory over the Jr. Flags, who were out-scored 11-2 in the series. Three of the St. Marys goals came in a three-minute span early in the game.
Nathan Switzer, Zach Rooney, Cam Stapleton and RJ Masse (powerplay) each had a goal and an assist for the Frayne crew. The other singles came off the sticks of Emmett Doupe and captain Jake Littlejohn, with Jake Pfaff chipping in two assists.
The net win went to Jack Aarts.
“It’s the same old story, you put the puck on net and drive the net and good things happen,” coach Dale Switzer said. “And that’s what happened tonight.
“When you have a chance to put a team away, you have to do it. We had a couple of kids get banged up a little bit in this game, so a little rest will do them good.”
It appears Switzer and company will meet Mt. Brydges Cougars in the next playoff round.