ANAF Bantams, Strathroy going to Game 5 Sunday
G&CC Atoms go out with a fight against Mt. Brydges
By Pat Payton
The ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams and Strathroy Jr. Rockets are going to Game 5 to decide their OMHA playoff series. It will be played Sunday, Jan. 26 at the Gemini arena in Strathroy, starting at 5:10p.m.
In Game 4 Wednesday night at the PRC, the Jr. Rockets tied the series 2-2 with a 2-1 victory.
Strathroy opened the scoring just 70 seconds into the game, converting a 2-on-1 break. Jr. Rockets out-shot the Rock 10-2 in the opening period, and had the better scoring opportunities.
St. Marys played better in the second period, out-shooting the visitors 11-2. However, they continued to have trouble generating quality scoring chances, even with a four-minute powerplay late in the period.
At the 1:04 mark of the third, immediately after a powerplay, Ian Boyd tied the score 1-1.
However, Strathroy regained the lead just over two minutes later and the goal would stand up as the winner.
Coach Dale Switzer pulled goalie Kiefer MacNeil for a sixth attacker in the final minute, but the ANAF squad couldn’t get the game into overtime.
“Strathroy just wanted it more,” Switzer said. “We ended up out-shooting them, but when we gota shot there was no traffic in front and a lot of our shots from the back-end were blocked. The loose-puck battles, Strathroy was winning a lot of those. They just wanted to win more than we did.”
Two evenly-matched teams
To be successful in the deciding game Sunday, Switzer says his team will have to out-work the Jr. Rockets.
“Both teams are evenly-matched,” the coach says. “You take that empty-net goal away (in Game 3), and they’ve been one-goal games every time. Strathroy is similar to us; they have one line that is real strong and we have one line that is real strong. And the defence is decent on both sides.
“Our feet have to move,” Switzer said, looking ahead to Game 5. “We have to figure out a way to play with urgency, but at the same time play a little more relaxed. You get gripping the sticks too tight and worrying about things. Sometimes you worry about losing, instead of worrying about winning. As a staff, we’re going to have to get the boys in the right frame of mind.”
In Game 3 on Tuesday night in Strathroy, the ANAF Bantams held a 2-1 lead in the second period, but the home-town Rockets scored the game’s final three goals to claim a 4-2 victory.
It left St. Marys with a slim two games to one lead in the best-of-five series.
After the desperate Strathroy club opened the scoring in the first period, two goals by winger Peyton Lobb put the Rock ahead 2-1 in the middle frame. However, the Rockets scored twice before the end of the period to regain a 3-2 advantage. Their final goal was into an empty St. Marys net with six seconds left in the third.
“We came out of the gate well,” coach Switzer reported. “In the second or third shift of the game, we bounced one off the post. If that had gone in, it would have turned the tide quickly in our favour.
“We didn’t play badly, but we weren’t jumping on the loose pucks like Strathroy did. Strathroy played like it was win or go home. And we didn’t.”
G&CC Atoms go out with a fight
On Wednesday night at the PRC, the Golf and Country Club ‘BB’ Atoms were eliminated from the OMHA playoffs by Mt. Brydges Cougars. But to their credit, Dan Murrell’s squad went out with a fight against a strong opponent.
A close 3-2 win gave Cougars the best-of-five series three games to one.
“When we were shaking hands, the Mt. Brydges coach said it was a lot tougher series than what they expected,” Murrell said. “That’s a credit to our boys; they battled hard tonight.
“We were down 3-0 early in the third, but we never gave up. We scored the last two and had a few chances. We hit a couple of posts and had a breakaway in the second period and their goalie made a great save.
“They had the puck a lot in the game, but we battled and kept them to the outside in our end. I was so proud of our boys tonight.”
Ben Ewing and Donovan McGregor scored the St. Marys goals, and Nolan Stewart played well in net.
In Game 3 Monday, Jan. 20 in Mt. Brydges, Cougars won 6-2, but held just a 3-2 lead midway through the third.
“It was another battle,” Murrell reported. “In three of the four games, it came down to the last fewminutes. And we took a game (in the series) that we thought we never would.
“We’re not as skilled as a lot of teams, but we battle. It’s a good trait to have,” he added.