A 6-goal outburst in the 2nd period during Saturday’s game against the 23rd ranked AAA team in Ontario, the Lambton Jr. Sting, was as good a sign as any that the HP Minor Bantams are heading in the right direction.
Trailing 4-0 after the first 8 minutes of the game, the Team dug down, focused on its transition game and took control of the game in the 2nd period, eventually winning 6-5. The win was a total team effort, with 12 different skaters getting on the score sheet. Of note, Greg “Bobby” Orr picked up his first goal of the year off a great shot from the point, while Mackinley O’Keefe, moved up to forward from his usual position on the point, finished off a nice passing play with a nifty deek of the Sting goaltender. Graeme Lauersen was stellar in net. The win was the HP 95’s first ever win over the Lambton Jr. Sting.
Following up this game, the Lakers headed to Bothwell on Sunday to face the Chatham-Kent Cyclones, a much-improved squad over the team iced during the 2007/08 season. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, with the outcome and flow of the game more dictated by the referee than the players. Joe Metzger played a solid game in net, with Mike Siddall, off a great individual effort, tying the game for the Lakers late in the 3rd period. With the single point, the team eclipsed last year’s season total point mark of 15 and moved into sole possession of 4th spot in the East, 1 point out of 3rd, with a couple of games in hand.
Leading up to this weekend, the team had seen a steady improvement in its play, particularly on the power-play and in the transition game. A solid 5-1 win over the Sun County Panthers, followed by a strong outing against the Windsor Spitfires gave the team added confidence in their game plan. While the Windsor game ended up a 4-1 loss, the team played a gutsy game with only 11 skaters and was in the match until the final buzzer. Great efforts by players such as Greg Scott, Carter Simpson and Matt McCracken set the stage for this improved focus.
Other recent games have seen the team drop 2 to the Cambridge Hawks, 6-3 and 3-1, and pick up a strong win off the Kitchener Rangers, 3-1. Cambridge has given the squad trouble this year although, asPJ Conlon mentioned from the penalty box to his Cambridge counterpart, the games are getting much more competitive! Playing much bigger teams like Cambridge reinforces for the team how important it is to stay within our system.
Looking ahead, the team plays 2 strong teams this coming weekend, the Elgin Middlesex Chiefs Saturday in St. Thomas, and the Waterloo Wolves, Sunday in Waterloo.