As the Host team of the 2008 All Ontario Bantam AAA Championship
being held in Stratford from March 24th to the 29th, the Huron Perth Lakers AAA Major Bantam team is already guaranteed 1 of the 7 spots available.
However, that guarantee isn’t being taken lightly by the Festival Inn sponsored team, which kicked off their playdown schedule this weekend in hopes of earning their spot by reaching the Alliance Pavilion Final.
With the preliminary rounds starting this past weekend, the Lakers are matched up against Hamilton in the best of 5 & already have control of the series, leading 2 games to 0.
On Saturday, the Lakers completely dominated their visiting opponents enroute to a 3-0 shutout victory. Brett O’Drowsky (St. Marys) earned the win & came up with some key saves when called upon to preserve the shutout. Nathan Gaunt (Milverton) opened the scoring for the Lakers with Dylan Lazarus (Woodstock) & Derek Cowing (Embro) assisting. Mac Nichol (Listowel) put the Lakers up by 2 after redirecting a slap shot into the top corner. David Dalby (Stratford) & Nik McIver (Stratford) grabbed the helpers. George Armstrong (Wingham) hammered home the final goal for the Lakers to round out the scoring with McIver picking up his 2nd point of the game.
Sunday's game in Hamilton was a challenge for the Lakers. With local highways closed due to the winter storm, five players were unable to make the trek to Hamilton. But the team was up for the challenge. Derek Cowing put the Lakers out front with Lazarus assisting. Dalby put the Lakers up by 2 a few minutes later with Brad McClure (Stratford) & Nichol assisting. But holding the lead became a challenge & with the Lakers being assessed 6 minor penalties in a row, Hamilton was able to bite back & tie the game. Lazarus restored the Lakers lead after being sent in on a breakaway & made no mistake finding the top corner. McIver & Cowing earned the assists. Jackson Martin (Listowel) playing in only his 2nd game since returning from a concussion back in October found the back of the net to give the Lakers a 2 goal lead once again. Dalby & McClure assisted on the goal. Obviously drained heading into the final period, the Lakers appeared to lose focus briefly but it was just long enough to let Hamilton back in to tie the game 4-4 & set up an exciting conclusion. With just over 2 minutes to go, Cowing rifled a Lazarus offering into the top corner of the net to give the Lakers a 5-4 victory & a 2-0 series lead.