ALLIANCE Rivalry Renewed – Lakers vs. Jr. Knights
The ALLIANCE Major Peewees semi-finals started with a bang this past weekend. The Huron-Perth Lakers Major Peewees AAA were matched up against the London Jr. Knights once again. A year ago these two teams battled in the finals and treated fans to some great hockey. This year's opening games would not disappoint local hockey fans as they were treated to two super hockey games this past weekend. This ALLIANCE rivalry was set to be renewed...
Lakers 3 – Jr. Knights 2
The two teams gathered at the Medway arena in London on Saturday, Feb. 21st. During the warm ups you could sense the tension as both teams were sizing each other up. Starting goalie Cole Thomas
tapped each post and the referee dropped the puck to signal – game on. The game started off with both teams finding their way. Two minutes into the game. the Knights went on the power play. Thomas
made a fine pad save and his team mates did the rest as they killed off the penalty. Late in the period, Thomas
again made a good save to keep the game scoreless.
The second period started with the Lakers back on their heels for a couple of minutes. They weathered the mini-storm when Derek Elliott
and Nathan Templeman
teamed up to get the puck to Roland McKeown
who faked the goalie completely out of position and tucked a back hander into the net giving the Lakers a 1-0 lead. At the midway point of the period, defenseman Carter Stewart
made a fine defensive play on a 2 on 1 allowing Thomas
to take the shooter all the way. The Knights continued to press the play. Some fine backchecking by the Lakers continued to frustrate the high flying Knights. With 53 seconds remaining in the period, McKenzie Carter
and Gregory Swan
combined to set up Andrew Bogdon
to up the Lakers lead to 2-0. After starting slowly, the Lakers regained the play by the end of the period.
Early in the third period the Lakers were on the penalty kill when Thomas
robbed a Knights' shooter right off the draw. With the Knights still on the power play they finally solved Thomas
as they shoved the puck into the net through a multi-player scrum in front to close the gap to 2-1. As the teams went back and forth the Lakers finally clicked for the insurance goal with five minutes to play. Ryan Stulp-Jacobson
and Garret James
moved the puck back and forth until James
blasted a shot on net. McKeown
jumped all over the rebound put the puck to the back of the net giving the Lakers a 3-1 lead. With 1:19 remaining to play the Knights took a time out and then pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. The Knights stormed the Lakers end zone and finally made the score 3-2 with 37 seconds to play. As the seconds ticked down, Thomas
took control and made several fantastic saves… as the buzzer sounded the Lakers celebrated a well deserved 3 – 2 team victory.
Jr. Knights 4 – Lakers 3…in overtime
The Huron-Perth Lakers AAA Major Peewees hosted the Jr. Knights in game two on Sunday, Feb. 22nd at Goderich MRC. As the teams took to the ice for their warm up you could feel the playoff fever within the MRC. The Lakers had an opportunity to take a stranglehold lead in the series so the Knights knew they had to win this game to stay in the series. Eric Ryan
and then the Knights' goalie nodded at the referee to signal it was game time. The Knights took the opening face off directly at the Lakers' net and took the lead 1-0. One minute later, the Knights were on the attack again and upped their lead to 2-0. In a move to change the pace of the game, goalie Cole Thomas
entered the game. He had to be sharp right away as he faced and stopped a breakaway. The Lakers started to force the play and had a few good scoring opportunities. With one minute to play in the period, London scored to make the score 3-0.
With a short break between periods, Coach Goetz
brought his team together and encouraged them to play a full game. The Lakers responded with a good second period effort. Two minutes into the period, the Lakers power play clicked. Keigan Goetz
forced the play down low and found Bayley Boyes
with a good pass. Boyes
made no mistake to make the score 3-1. This goal gave the Lakers and their fans some life. On the next shift, McKeown
with an exceptional pass but the Knights' goalie was equal to the shot. Eight minutes into the period, Thomas
stared down and stopped a Knights' breakaway. The Lakers were building their momentum as the period went on but could not get any closer than 3-1 heading to the third period.
During the break, the coaching staff must have stirred the Lakers up with some good advice as a fired up Lakers team hit the ice for the third period. The period started with both teams playing 4 on 4. The Lakers penalty expired and the team had a short but profitable power play. James
kept the puck in the Knights' zone pushing it to Goetz
who found Templeman
going hard to the net. Templeman
circled in a spinning fashion leaving the defender looking the wrong way then tucked a shot into the net making the score 3-2. Several minutes later, Thomas
made a fine blocker save to keep the game close. The play was going back and forth entertaining the crowd with good passing and many scoring opportunities. With two minutes remaining, McKeown
made a smart play following the play up the left wall to surprise the Knights' defender. He out muscled the defender and got the puck to Templeman
who went directly to the net firing a shot in off the corner bar tying the score at 3. With seconds remaining, the Knights were forcing the play and Thomas
was called upon to make a super butterfly save.
The sudden death overtime was scheduled to go five minutes. Both teams came out flying. The Lakers had a couple of opportunities with James
flipping a backhander towards the net and the Knights' goalie alertly gloved the screen shot. Two minutes into the period, a Knights' forward skated hard into the Lakers' zone and wired a shot 18 inches above the ice on the glove side to give the Knights a 4-3 overtime victory. The Lakers can keep their heads high as they have done all year – they never quit – they always play the entire game.
The fans were certainly treated to two very entertaining hockey games this past weekend. Next up…a couple of tune up practices and then two games next weekend…Feb. 28th in London at Nichols @ 5:30 p.m. and March 1st in Goderich at MRC @ 2:30 p.m.