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Sunday, September 25, 2022
Hockey: With holidays on horizon, Jr. A Predators extend win streak

Kevan Dowd

Special to The Lake Report

It’s shaping up to be a very happy holidays for the Niagara Predators with three straight wins last weekend, but some of their opponents may have made Santa’s naughty list.

Further solidifying their third-place spot in the southern division of the Greater Metro Jr. A Hockey League, the Predators put down the Windsor Aces 10-3 on Friday night. 

Meanwhile, back-to-back wins against the Northumberland Stars the next two days ended in scores of 6-4 and 9-2 – and nearly two hours in penalty minutes for the Stars.

It all started with a rough road game Saturday and ended with a home game Sunday that Predators general manager Johan Eriksson called “violent.”

“Saturday, that was very interesting,” he said. “That was what I would call a more dirty game. The refs allowed almost everything. We suffered three injuries and if there’s an upside, it’s that it was only three. It was one of the most dangerous games I’ve ever seen. ”

Northumberland’s Matthew Bazarin and Nicolas Collins were given 10-minutes each for unsportsmanlike conduct right after the puck first dropped, and a game disqualification for Liam Boyle came after 14 minutes. Collins and Predator Reese Bisci each served 10 for misconduct at the 17:34 mark of the second period and a fight broke out between Bazarin and Niagara’s Maxwell Bredin in the final minute of the game.

As for goals, Pontus Madsen was the only Predator on the scoresheet after 32 minutes – earning a hat trick in that time – but combined with a power-play goal from Jesper Eriksson late in the second period, Niagara led the Stars 4-1.

Northumberland rallied, netting three goals in barely three minutes to tie the game, but a second from Eriksson and a single from Henry-Pierre Jayet sealed the deal for Niagara’s 6-4 victory.

A much wider margin at home the next day saw a slew of goals from Niagara with singles for Madsen, Brendan Morin, Dante Massi and younger brother Alessandro, Mario Zitella and Georgy Kholmovsky and three for Eriksson who had six goals over the weekend.

The first five goals of the game – all in the first period and for Niagara – came on power plays thanks to another rough night against the Stars. Northumberland earned 32 penalty minutes in the first period alone and Bazarin being ejected after 13 minutes.

The team earned a further 30 minutes of time in the box over the last two periods, with their coach facing a possible fine, all before the entire team cleared the bench and walked out with five minutes left in the game.

“They earned a bunch of suspensions after the game. I’ve never seen anything like it. I think they weren’t really here to play hockey.”

In a much more reserved game, Niagara dominated the short-benched Aces Friday night at the Meridian Credit Union Arena in Virgil with six goals to Windsor’s one in the first period including one from Zitella, newcomer Alessandro Massi, Jayet, Noah Caperchione and a pair from Alexander Insulander.

A slower second period saw a goal from each team, with Eriksson and Windsor’s Evan Ferguson bringing the score to 7-1. A second tally from Ferguson came in the third but Niagara ran away with the game thanks to an early goal from Madsen, a second for Zitella and third for Insulander.

Despite the seven-goal difference, Predators owner and current coach Robert Turnbull was modest about his team’s performance.

“I said to the guys in there, when they leave the rink tonight they need to forget about this game. The score’s the score, the Aces were short,” Turnbull said.

“Now we made a lot of phenomenal plays out there, the guys worked hard and there was three or four guys who worked extra hard. But to be a good team, everybody has to play to potential because there was a couple too many chances on defence and we got caught,” he added.

Seeing an opportunity, Turnbull capitalized on his team’s early lead to give some of his team’s secondary lines some much-needed game experience.

“If we’re going to develop players, they have to play. It was nice to see the guys who don’t get as much time as the guys on the power play or the penalty kill step up and get a couple goals.”

The Predators will face Windsor for a second time at the Meridian arena this Friday, Dec 10 at 7:30 p.m. The team has four games left before taking a two-week break over Christmas.