A pair of wins last weekend means the Jr. A Niagara Predators can breathe a little easier knowing their losing streak is over and their point-count is growing.
“It’s nice that we’re back in the win column,” said Predators head coach Kevin Taylor.
“The boys are excited, they’re feeling good, which is nice to see again. It’s always nice when you win but especially this one because it’s been so long, you start wondering, when the next one’s going to be,” said Taylor.
The weekend started off with a 4-1 win at home over the Tottenham Railers last Friday night.
Niagara’s Declan Fogarty opened things up 13 seconds into the game, with Gehrig Lindberg netting a second at the 16-minute mark.
Tottenham managed one before the first intermission, but goals by Predators Guy Manco in the second period and Nicholas Nicoletti in the third put an end to their six-game losing-streak.
Keeping things going on the road the next day, Niagara put down the Toronto Flyers 7-4.
Toronto initially took the lead before Niagara’s Shane Kaplan and Lindberg put the Preds out front.
The Flyers spent the rest of the night chasing the Predators, tying things before the end of the first period before falling behind by two by the end of the second, care of Luca Fernandez and Reese Bisci.
A goal to narrow the gap early in the last 20 minutes was quickly followed by Fogarty’s second tally of the weekend.
Toronto would score once more, only to be answered swiftly by Fernandez’s second of the game.
But it seemed the Flyers had run out of gas, unable to put anything else past Mike Mankowski and giving up an empty-netter to Lindberg.
In the past few weeks, Taylor has spoken frankly about his players not showing up to play and having no explanation for their performances. But he was singing a different tune after this weekend.
“We worked hard over the past week. There are still some problems and we’re going to get through them but we’re making some changes,” he said.
“They came out and they wanted to play.”
Though they still sit in second-last place in the Greater Metro Hockey League’s south division, the weekend’s four points puts some distance between them and the last-place Toronto Flyers.
It also moves them closer to the three-way tie that makes up the middle of the division’s pack.
Right now, the Northumberland Stars, Tottenham Railers and St. George Ravens each lead Niagara by three points but have played more games.
Taylor hopes the weekend was the start of a much-needed comeback.
“We have to start making some moves up the ladder. It’s important,” he said.
They can only hope their latest wins can keep them energized and focused as they prepare for a tough upcoming weekend.
They face the second-place Durham Roadrunners and first-place North York Renegades in back-to-back games before finishing Sunday afternoon at home against the Flyers.
Although the Predators have never managed a win against either Durham or North York, they have mostly managed to hold their own against the two top-ranked teams.
But, according to Taylor, his team is in the best shape they have been in all season.
They have a full lineup and are healthy. “Now it’s time to put together a string of wins.”
The Predators host Durham at the Meridian Credit Union Arena this Friday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. They play the Flyers at home Sunday, Nov. 26 at 3:30 pm.