Marlies Tourney - Better Late Than Never
Niagara Falls Canucks 8-1 W
The Minor Midgets competed in their fifth and final tournament of the year over the Christmas holidays. The first game on December 27 was an early one so most players and families made the trip to Toronto the night before. When the puck dropped Sunday morning players on both teams were still a little groggy and quickly found themselves tied at 1-1. Brandon Priestap got the Lakers first goal by banging in a rebound. The Canucks made the best of a clear-cut breakaway to tie it. David Sproat made it 2-1 by redirecting Jesse DeGroote’s hard point shot. Travelling at close to top speed, Ray Huether chipped a pass to equally speedy Ryan Watson who just had time to gain control of the puck and roof it....3-1. Before the end of the period, Watson scored again, to make it 4-1, by corralling and burying a Jake Ringuette rebound.
In the second period Liam Maaskant's heavy wrist shot beat the goalie cleanly. This would've made the score 5-1 but the only people who saw it go under the crossbar were standing above the net in the coffee shop. The real 5-1 goal finally came via Colt Pickett's low shot which rebounded and bounced in off Brady Wiffen's skate. With the goalie out of position, Jerry Ennett had all the time in the world to dispose of Jake Ringuette's rebound and made no mistake. David Sproat completed the rout with his second goal of the game after trailing the play and snapping a rebound inside the left post.
Don Mills Flyers 4-1 W
The first period and a half of play in this game was quite even, owing largely to the efforts of the Lakers defensive corps. Spencer Ball pinched from the blue line and took a hit. Jeff McArdle looked like he hadn't missed a game all year, calmly passing the puck up ice. A Liam Maaskant pass, disguised as a shot was nearly tipped in. Scott Coghlin turned on the after burners to catch a speedy Flyer and disrupt a partial breakaway. When needed, right-winger Colt Pickett provided the penalty killing with relentless forechecking and some pretty impressive eye-hand coordination, catching one puck and knocking others out of midair with his stick.
With five minutes left in the second period, Drew Reinhardt skated halfway to the hash marks to challenge a shooter. Chris Stewart's skaters responded to this save by noticeably shifting into a higher gear. Ray Huether set up Ryan Watson but the speedy winger made one move too many on the goalie. Huether went coast to coast on a great individual effort but was unsuccessful. Finally Huether did manage to open the scoring by taking a pass at the side of the net and darting out front to tuck it in. Although the Flyers would manage one goal to spoil Reinhardt's shutout bid, Huether's effort opened the floodgates for the Lakers. When Ryan Watson tried to crash the defense the puck was left for trailer Ty Bilcke to snap in. Huether made it 3-1 with a nasty wrist shot off the left post and completed his 4-1 hat-trick by bringing the puck out front to launch the low, spinning wrist shot.
York Simcoe Express 6-1 L
After two initial games against lesser talent the Lakers knew this one would be more intense. Colt Pickett and Shawn Moore were very quick to adapt to the faster pace and set the tone with solid body checks in the early going. In the first period a perfectly executed 2 on 1 resulted in a 1-0 lead for the Express. Goalie Drew Reinhardt responded to this goal with a great glove save. On a second period penalty kill Jake Ringuette and Jeff McArdle took turns blocking shots to support their goalie.
David Sproat took a headshot behind the net but the jolt was worth it - on the resulting power play Ray Huether ripped a wrister which dipped and beat the goalie inside the left post. After going down 2-1 Drew Reinhardt made the save of the year. Down in the crease at the complete mercy of a shooter, Reinhardt had one option which was to guess where to put his catching glove. He guessed right and left the shooter and everyone else in the building shaking their heads. As the second period ended Reinhardt got another reprieve when the buzzer sounded just before the puck crossed the goal line.
Reinhardt continued to keep it close with a nice leg save early in the third. The Express kept pressing, though, and finally went up 3-1 after a quick centring pass and one-timer. In net to finish the game, goalie Cian Patterson-March was called on to face a very stressful situation when York-Simcoe were awarded a penalty shot. As the shooter approached, #1 stared him down, challenging him to make the first move. When the shot came, Patterson-March was already dropping to his knees and made the pad save look easy. The powerful Express kept pouring it on and showed why they're the top team in their league, ultimately outscoring the Huron-Perth side by a score of 6-1.
Ottawa Valley Titans
The Lakers looked very strong in the first five minutes but had the wind taken out of their sails momentarily when a puck was kicked past Cian Patterson-March to make the score 1-0 Titans. Jake Ringuette helped to rally the troops after receiving a Ray Huether drop pass and getting a good shot on net. The Titans goalie made the initial save but a trailing Ryan Watson was too much for the defense to handle, barging through to bang in the 1-1 rebound. At the other end of the rink Patterson-March dove headlong to make one save and then lay in the crease kicking and flailing to keep the puck out. Despite these efforts an unattended Titan's forward made a nice deke to put the Ottawa team ahead 2-1. Hard work does pays off and Patterson-March got a little break in the second period when an Ottawa goal was disallowed for goaltender interference. The nimble net minder got a second reprieve when a Titan deked right and somehow shot the puck wide of the left post. Big Liam Maaskant provided some excitement by becoming one of the few d. men in history to body check an opponent over the boards and into his own bench. In the third period the Lakers worked hard but couldn't put any numbers on the scoreboard. Ottawa's persistence paid off. The Titan's went on to win the game 5-1, thereby eliminating the Lakers from the tournament.
Article by: Paul Sproat