A week of practice and recouperation was all the Niagara Jr. A Predators needed to come back for their first win of the season last Friday night.
A 5-2 decision for the Predators over the St. George Ravens gives the Predators a 1-1-0 record in the Greater Metro Hockey League’s south division.
Compared to their only other game of the season – which saw penalties and a weak third period cost them a W right out of the gate – they skated to a clean win over the Ravens thanks to a strong final 20 minutes and clear signs they had learned from their mistakes.
“It was a good win,” said Predators head coach Kevin Taylor.
“I was a little worried after the first, it was a little rusty. I thought they were a little slow coming out. Second period I thought we played a lot better and the third period we really played well.”
Although St. George opened up the scoring just 29 seconds into the game, Isaac Locker tied it up for Niagara just shy of the first period’s halfway mark.
Trailing after the second period’s only goal went to the Ravens, the Predators came back in the third with a fury – scoring four unanswered goals.
Locker kicked-started the comeback with his second of the night a minute into the third followed by Niagara-on-the-Lake native Josh Frena, earning his first GMHL career tally at the 4:55 mark to put his team in the lead.
Nicholas Nicoletti gave the Predators some breathing room at 13:29 and veteran Reese Bisci finished things off with his team’s final point of the night in the last 60 seconds.
Taylor believes his players are starting to take coaching staff’s advice to heart, feeling part of the win came from them correcting their mistakes thanks to dressing-room feedback. He also thinks taking fewer penalties made a big difference.
“I think everybody was more involved in the game,” he said.
Not everyone get to play on the penalty kill, he noted, and in their first game the Preds took a lot of penalties, including two five-minute majors.
“So, it takes them out of the game and then trying to get them back in the game is tough.”
Along with the win came some surprising news out of the GMHL: unable to fill their roster, the Windsor Aces have folded.
“They’ve always had a hard time getting players down there,” said Taylor.
With a game scheduled against them last Saturday, it mean only one game for the Predators for the second week in a row.
Taylor said the change does not affect the number of home games in their season but could mean more road games. He’ll know better when he sees an updated official schedule.
With another week of just practising, Taylor wants to keep the ball rolling for their next game against the Toronto Flyers this Friday night. He just hopes his players will keep seeing the results of growing and learning on and off the ice.
“These guys are young and they’re full of something all of the time so you know we’ll probably run into mistakes again,” he said.
The Predators face the Toronto Flyers this Friday, Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Meridian Credit Union Arena in Virgil.