Early in the year the Major Atoms had no problem scoring goals in most games, but at the same time were giving up too many against. Starting early in January the Coaching Staff introduced a slightly new style of play where defensive cover came before scoring goals. As the old saying goes “if you don’t get score against you’ll never lose”. In the last 10 games the Major Atoms are 8 – 1 – 1.
The coaching staff introduced some new drills in practice to help the players buy into the new system and the players adapted fairly quickly. The players were told a great back check where they prevent a goal being scored against, is better than scoring a goal for. With this style of play every player on the team feels like they are contributing every shift their on the ice. The first few games after introducing the new system Major Atoms scored fewer goals for, but cut their goals against in half.
After a disappointing playoff in the previous year the Major Atoms entered into this year’s playoff on a positive up beat attitude ready to play. After clinching 2nd place in the East division in their 2nd last game on the regular season against Kitchener this would mean that they would play Brantford in the 1st round of playoffs. The series would be the best of 5 series with the Lakers getting the extra game at home.
Game # 1 in Wingham the Major Atoms scored first as the play started in the Lakers end just as a Power Play ran out, but it was a text book goal where it was a D to D pass, up to the left winger who fed the centre man and he found the right winger open in front of the Brantford net and made no mistake putting the Lakers up 1 – 0. After 2 periods of play the Lakers were leading 2 – 1 in a very tight checking game where the Laker wingers were doing a great job of back checking. The teams traded goals in the 3rd period and with the Lakers goalie making a game winning save with 10 seconds remaining the Major Atoms recorded a 4 – 3 victory.
Game # 2 in Brantford the Major Atom Lakers jumped out to a 1 – 0 lead in the first shift of the game. Once again the game was a very tight checking game and at times the Brantford team were out playing the Lakers. The Lakers scored 2 power play goals mid way through the game, but the Brantford team didn’t quit and had a couple of lucky bounces to scored 2 goals keeping it close, until the Lakers scored a shorthanded goal with 2 minutes remaining in the game to give the Lakers the 5 – 2 win.
Game # 3 in Goderich after a long trip home from Brantford the night before because of poor road conditions and Major Atoms wanted to get out to an early lead and shut down Brantford’s offence. Midway through the 1st period the Lakers scored to go up 1 – 0 and their game plan seem to be working. Early in the 2nd period Brantford scored to tie the game, but the Lakers came right back and scored 3 goals in 3 minutes. After that it was a matter of playing a defensive style of hockey. Both teams scored in the 3rd to make it a 5 – 2 win for the Lakers and giving them a series sweep 3 – 0 over Brantford.
The Major Atoms will meet Waterloo next in the Quarter Finals for the Alliance Championship.