December 26-30th, 2009
Sunday, December 27/09
The Lakers led off the tournament with a late morning game against the Vaughan Kings. The game didn’t start so well as the Lakers gave up three goals in the first period. The second period began better as Mac MacSorley scored just thirty seconds in to give the Lakers some life, assisted by Riley McCabe (see video below).
Unfortunately, the Kings responded with two more goals (one of which was a power play goal) to put the Lakers behind 5-1 after two periods. The Lakers just couldn’t seem to get going in this game and gave up another goal in the third period to lose their first game 6-1. The shot count of 46 to 5 for the Kings accurately reflected the pounding the Lakers took in this game.
Early Sunday evening the Lakers would play against Team Illinois in their second game of the day. Their first opponent, the Vaughan Kings, had been ranked only slightly higher than the Lakers but Team Illinois was ranked #4 in the U.S. After the 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Kings it wasn’t looking so good for the Lakers going into the game with the Americans.
It was a welcome surprise though in the team that skated onto the ice for the Lakers. The Lakers had shaken off their horrible first game and came ready to play in what would, at best, be a tough contest with Team Illinois. Hard skating and hard working were apt descriptions of the Lakers in this game. Although the Illinois team was very fast and skilled, the Lakers weren’t intimidated and raised their game to the same level.
Both teams played to a scoreless draw in the first period. The second period was almost scoreless as well but Illinois was able to get the puck past Lakers’ netminder Joe Metzger in the last two minutes of the period to establish a one goal lead over the Lakers. The teams continued to battle throughout the third period. Try as they might, however, the Lakers couldn’t get the equalizer and Team Illinois won the game 1-0. The Lakers had played some of their best hockey with strong defensive play – a foundation to build on in the remaining games of the tournament.
Monday, December 28/09
The third game turned out to be a repeat performance by the Lakers of their first game the previous day. The opponent in this game was the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs – a team ranked just below the Lakers.
The Lakers had a promising start in this game as they carried the play for most of the first period and even scored first with about a minute and a half to go in the period. Riley McCabe opened the scoring for the Lakers with assists to Greg Williams and Nick Castell (see video below).
Unfortunately, in the final minute of the period the Bulldogs scored to even the score at 1-1.
The second period would see the Bulldogs take the lead on a power play goal midway through. The Lakers would get their turn on the power play with just over a minute to go in the period. In what would be a nightmare for the Lakers they would give up two short-handed goals during this power play – one before the period ended and another twenty seconds into the third period. It’s a two minute stretch that’s best forgotten. The Lakers got their second goal of the game in the last third of the period when Mac MacSorley scored after muscling past a Bulldog defender and slipping the puck between the goalie's legs, assist to PJ Conlon (see video below).
The Bulldogs added another goal late in the third to hand the Lakers a 5-2 loss and take away any chance of the Lakers advancing in the tournament.
Tuesday, December 29/09
The Lakers’ final game of the tournament saw them matched up against the Ottawa Jr. Senators. The Lakers and Senators had tangled a month earlier at the Kitchener tournament and battled to a 2-2 tie. The Senators needed a win to move on in the tournament and the Lakers were playing both for pride and to prove they were a better team than the results of two of the three games they had played showed.
In the roller coaster ride the Lakers players were taking the coaching staff and parents on in this tournament this game would see them soar to new heights. The Lakers were “on fire” for this game and played a fast skating, hard hitting, quick puck movement style of hockey combined with a ferocious forecheck. The entire team was hungry for the puck.
It was a scoreless first period that saw both teams have chances but no success. Joe Metzger was called upon to make a great pad save less than a dozen seconds into the second period after a Senator slipped between the Lakers defenceman on a short breakaway. The save seemed to fire up the Lakers as just twenty seconds later they would storm into the Senators’ end and take a one goal lead when, after a nifty backhand pass from Nick Castell, PJ Conlon roofed the puck from in close, second assist to Michael Siddall (see video below).
Having opened the scoring, the Lakers were hungry for more goals. Less than a minute later, Devin Williams scored an unassisted goal after stripping a Senators’ defenceman of the puck and bursting in alone on the goalie (see video below).
The Lakers had the Senators back on their heels and as a result the Senators took a string of penalties over the remainder of the period. On the next three power plays the Lakers would score on each one to open up a 5-0 lead. Goals came from strong efforts from the power play units and included scoring by Greg Williams (assist to Riley McCabe), McCabe (assists to Jayden Landry and Brett Stacey), and Mac MacSorley (assist to Siddall) (see videos below).
The Senators were able to finally get on the scoreboard in the final minute of the second period to make the score 5-1.
The third period saw the Senators score a power play goal of their own but they couldn’t close the gap as the Lakers, firmly in control of this game, were not going to be denied. It was clearly one of the Lakers best games of the entire season to date.
Overall, the Lakers had a good showing in the tournament going 2-2. The great games against some very tough teams (Illinois and Ottawa) were strong positives to take away from the tournament. The poor showings in the other two contests were vivid reminders that success will only come if the entire team puts in a 100% effort while working together as a team.