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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Sports: Predators win big as playoffs loom
The Niagara Predators, seen here in a previous game, beat the Toronto Flyers 9-2 last week. FILE PHOTO

Short and sweet is one way to describe this past week for the Jr. A Niagara Predators, who played just one game but came out of it with a 9-2 win against the Toronto Flyers.

Playoffs are coming up fast and the Predators need all the points they can get if they want to finish the season in the upper half of the Greater Metro Hockey League’s south division.

Although they are in sixth place of eight, they trail fourth and fifth by no more than four points with five games to go.

While the Flyers are in last place in the division, Predators head coach Kevin Taylor does not think this diminishes their win Saturday.

“It was a good game,” he said. “We played well, we did all the little things that would make us successful against anyone. They’re not the strongest team but they played well. We just capitalized on the opportunities they gave us.”

Niagara’s Isaac Locker opened up the scoring two minutes in, with Toronto answering back not long after but any indication it may have been a close game ended quickly with Reese Bisci and Cameron Savoie each getting one in the later half of the first period.

In the second, Tyler DeCoff, Nolan Wyers, Georgy Kholmovsky, Luca Fernandez and Tyler Gearing joined the scoring parade. Toronto managed one goal of its own.

With the clock running for the whole third period, Predator Nicholas Nicoletti netted one more for his team’s ninth and final tally.

“The guys were happy, the coaching staff was happy, I was happy. It was an enjoyable game,” said Taylor. “Now we just have to go and do it again on Sunday.”

The Predators play Toronto for the last time this season on Sunday but more interesting is who else is on their schedule before the playoffs.

In their last four games, Niagara play the St. George Ravens twice and Tottenham Railers once. Those teams sit in the two spots above them.

A few decisive wins would be enough to move them up as far as fourth place and with the third-place Durham Roadrunners eight points ahead but facing a tough final stretch, Taylor thinks even a third-place finish is not completely out of the question.

“If we finish fifth, we could play any one of those teams. If we finish fourth, we could play any one of those teams,” he said.  “I think there’s an outside chance for third right now still.”

Although where they finish is still to be determined, they can expect to square-off against either Durham, St. George or Tottenham.

“Each team you have to prepare for differently,” he said. Tottenham is a bigger team, “I think they intimidate teams a lot but I also think that if your powerplay is working, it will be a short series.”

St. George is a hard-working team, so “it’s not going to be an easy win. I think all our games with them have been very close all year and their head coach has them working hard.”

“Durham, I find they’re a wildcard just in the sense where you don’t know if you’re going to get the team in the past who just steamrolled over teams or a team that struggles to get wins out.”

For now, he just wants to keep his team focused on what is left of the regular season – “and not look past Toronto but also get ready for the other teams as well.”

In a rare afternoon game, the Predators play the Toronto Flyers this Sunday, Feb. 4 at 3:30 p.m. at the Meridian Credit Union Arena.

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