The Minor Bantam Lakers held on to a 2-2 tie Sunday in Hamilton, forcing the 8 point series to a Game 7, to be held March 21st in Stratford.
Coming off a tough 3-2 loss Friday evening in Hensall, the Lakers were in a “no lose” position Sunday when the puck dropped in Hamilton. Despite being handed a couple of early game power-plays, the Lakers could not capitalize, with the teams heading into the 2nd period with no goals to show for their efforts.
The Lakers got on the board first, off some strong, down-low play by the line of Jared Zufelt, Drew Wood and Mike Siddall. Siddall picked up a Wood rebound, aimed the puck at the net and watched as Zufelt cashed in the 2nd rebound in as many shots. Before the end of the period, the Reps took advantage of one of their own powerplays and knotted the game 1-1 heading into the 3rd.
Good scoring chances were quelled early at both ends by Lakers goalie Joe Metzger and Reps goalie Corey Foster. An errant pass out of the Reps’ zone however was picked off by Siddall, who went in alone with just under 10 minutes to play to put the Lakers ahead. The team looked to have the game under control until a long, drawn out scrum occurred on the half-boards in the Lakers zone. After what seemed like 30 seconds, the Lakers players were reminded of the importance of sealing the defensive side of the puck when a Reps player popped out of the tangle of bodies, swung around the net and tucked a quick wrap-around behind Metzger. Not long thereafter, Metzger made a highlight real glove save to keep the game tied at 2.
Penalty trouble late in the game saw the team play most of the last 3:46 of regulation down a player. Fortunately, strong penalty killing carried the day, with the 5 minute over-time solving nothing.
Game 5 Friday saw the teams tied late in the 3rd period when a defensive zone lapse allowed 3 successive rebounds that were ultimately converted into the game-winning goal. The loss could not take away from a very strong outing by Lakers goalie Graeme Lauersen. Iain Donnelly (Jayden Landry, Greg Williams), on the power-play, and Siddall (Matt McCracken, P.J. Conlon) picked up the Lakers goals.
To highlight the competitiveness of the Series, just 2 goals separate the teams after 6 games.