McHugh scores twice, Firefighters
By Pat Payton
In their Shamrock League series opener Wednesday night at the PRC, the Firefighter ‘BB’ Peewees out-shot the Rangers 30-10 en route to a 4-1 victory over the Belmont Rangers.
The win gave St. Marys a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three quarter-final playoff series.
“I think that was our goal tonight . . . to get (at least) 25 shots,” coach Dwain Smith told the Independent. “In some OMHA playoff games, we only had nine shots and that doesn’t get the job done.”
Winger Oliver McHugh paced the Rock offence with a pair of goals, while the singles came off the sticks of Jayden Tipping and Evan Ballantyne.
Goals by McHugh and Tipping gave Firefighters a 2-0 lead late in the first period. Tipping’s goal came in the final minute of play as St. Marys held a wide territorial edge and an 8-2 advantage in shots.
After Belmont closed the gap to 2-1 with six minutes remaining in the second period, Ballantyne restored a two-goal lead for the Rock with just 27 seconds left in the frame. McHugh completed the scoring early in the third.
“I like the way we started,” Smith said. “We came out of the gate strong. But once we got up 2-0, we let up. In the third, we re-grouped again and had lots of shots and chances.
“Playing the right way wins hockey games . . . and it’s fun.”
McHugh, Tipping, Evan Ballantyne and Colton Hawkins finished the night with two points apiece. Julian Walsh picked up the net win. His best saves came in the final 15 minutes.
The keys to beating the Rangers are: “Play our style, get shots on net, and eliminate turnovers,” coach Smith summed up.
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon in Belmont.