For the 1st time this season, the Minor Bantam HP Lakers have picked up points in 3 consecutive games. Solid efforts on Saturday, against the East’s 2nd place team the Cambridge Hawks, and on Sunday, against East rival the Kitchener Rangers, saw the Lakers pick up two hard earned ties.
Playing at Stratford’s RBC Ice Pad on Saturday, the team participated in a match that saw the Lakers battle back all game. Falling behind 2-0 off 2 short-handed goals 25 seconds apart, the players refused to give up, with Greg Scott tipping a nice point shot from Carter Strachan into the net to see the 1st period end 2-1. The Hawks regained their 2 goal lead early in the 2nd only to see the Lakers pull to within 1 when Carter Strachan cashed in on the powerplay off hard work by Mac MacSorley. The Lakers then pulled even, when Iain Donnelly scored the team’s 2nd powerplay goal, off assists from Jared Zufelt and Greg Williams. Defenceman Braydon Blight played a key part in the goal, keeping the puck in the offensive zone and getting it towards the net. The period ended with the Hawks scoring their 2nd goal of the period, going up 4-3.
Recent history has seen the team let down going into the 3rd period during close games; however, that was not the case this time. Consistent commitment to team defence and puck pressure saw the team tie the score off a great point shot from Greg Orr that found the top corner. Unfortunately, Cambridge responded less than 30 seconds later to take their 3rd lead of the game. The Lakers didn't give up and were rewarded when Blight found the back of the net after his point shot hit a Cambridge player and deflected behind the Hawks' goalie. Despite ending the game on the powerplay, the Lakers could not get the go-ahead goal; although they did get a big monkey off their back by out-shooting and keeping pace with a team that has been tough on them all year.
Sunday’s action moved to the Maitland Recreation Complex in Goderich, where the team hosted the Kitchener Rangers. The game was a true 4 pointer, as Kitchener headed into the game just 1 point ahead of the Lakers in the standings. The line of Zufelt, Williams and Donnelly got the Lakers on the score sheet first when Williams buried a nice feed from the side of the net from Donnelly. Kitchener tied the game up before the end of the period off a breakaway. The Lakers again took the lead mid-way through the 2nd when PJ Conlon rifled a shot past the Kitchener goalie off a great passing play by line-mates Matt McCracken and Scott. Kitchener again clawed back, evening the score just 7 seconds after a Lakers penalty had expired.
The 3rd period saw both good scoring chances and strong goaltending at both ends; however neither team found the twine resulting in a hard-fought 2-2 tie.
The Lakers finish off their regular season with games against the West leading London Knights on Tuesday in London and the East leading Waterloo Wolves on Saturday in Brussels. At time of writing, great seats were still available for Saturday’s game in Brussels.